Bank of the Year, Bank of the Year Brazil & Investment Bank of the Year, Brazil: Itaú-Unibanco

Nov 1, 2013

A conservative banking strategy that has nevertheless sought out growth opportunities is paying off for Itaú, Latin America’s largest bank

There is cause for optimism for Brazil’s banking sector — despite the challenges it faces on several fronts. A slump in economic growth, a decline in average interest rates and a slowdown in a decade-long cycle of credit expansion have together meant higher credit costs and narrower margins.

Next year’s presidential elections also spell uncertainty, while there is concern over disruption — following protests that erupted across the country in 2013 — when the country hosts the World Cup next summer.

But optimism for the banking sector is based on what many analysts see as prudent planning and a conservative approach to doing business — operating principles that have largely paid off for the country’s main private lenders.

Profitability is unlikely to remain at past levels, Fitch Ratings says. Bradesco and Itaú-Unibanco, the largest non-government lenders in Brazil, have coped admirably with changing circumstances and performed well compared to their global...

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