Itaú Unibanco: Behind the Merger

Nov 1, 2009

Mindful of competition at home, Brazil’s newly minted banking behemoth is bolstering domestic business while readying a push overseas. Itaú Unibanco is poised to take on the world.


by Dan Shirai

Crisis is unlikely to be a word historians will choose to describe what Brazil has undergone in the 12 months through October. A dizzying cascade of good tidings – serial oil discoveries, promotion to investment grade ratings, selection for the 2016 Olympics, and swift emergence from recession – make up a seemingly endless and, some would argue, long overdue streak of good luck for Brazil, which for decades has been plagued by economic ills.

A handful of mega deals – the merger of Itaú and Unibanco, JBS’s leap to the top of the global beef sector, Perdigão’s purchase of Sadia to forge a leading world poultry producer, VCP’s acquisition of Aracruz and Santander Brazil’s jumbo IPO – show how the country’s top assets are in the hands of a savvy cadre of managers.

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“The crisis has been a setback for reserve diversification."

Jan Dehn, Ashmore Investment Management