Putting Itself Out In Front
Unibanco, the Brazilian bank that has cultivated an image as a financial services provider for the rich, has dipped into the consumer market as a means of survival.
Overlooking the still, fetid waters of São Paulo's
Rio Pinheiros and hemmed in by traffic-clogged expressways and
highways, stands a solitary office tower that houses one of the
country's most desirable businesses: União de Bancos
Brasileiros, or Unibanco. It is not the largest or most
profitable bank in Brazil, but it may be the easiest one for a
competitor to snap up. It is a superbly managed operation that
controls about 5% of the largest banking market in the southern
hemisphere. Yet it trades at a 50% discount on the stock
market, making it one of the cheapest banks on the continent.
Citibank and Spain's Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria are two
names often said to have held talks with Unibanco's majority
owner, the Moreira Salles family. Yet Pedro Moreira Salles, son
of the founder and the bank's current boss, insists that
Unibanco is not for sale. Although any intelligent...
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