Mexican lender buys Standard Bank’s Brazilian unit

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Grupo Financiero Inbursa, the bank controlled by billionaire Carlos Slim, has agreed to buy Standard Bank’s Brazilian unit for $45 million (R484m), getting a foot in the door in South America’s top economy.

The Standard Bank unit, with an operating licence in Brazil, offered a platform to develop a local business in the same mold as Inbursa’s current operations, Slim’s company said on Friday. The Mexico City-based bank offers services including insurance and vehicle loans in its home country.

Inbursa, led by chairman Marco Antonio Slim Domit, the billionaire’s son, is growing investments abroad. Its participation in a syndicated loan to YPF resulted in Inbursa receiving shares in 2012 after the Argentine oil producer defaulted.

Shares in Inbursa fell less than 1 percent on Friday in Mexico City before the buyout was announced. Bloomberg reported in October last year that Inbursa was in talks to acquire the Standard Bank division.

Banco Standard de Investimentos, as the Brazilian unit is known, had 244 million reais (R1.55bn) of assets in the country as of September last year, 92 percent less than the 2.9 billion reais reported in June 2012, according to central bank data. Total capital decreased 63 percent to 115 million reais.

Standard Bank established an office in São Paulo in 1998 and eventually employed more than 100 people there, according to the company’s website.

The Brazil unit has been involved in structured finance, metals trading, commodity finance, foreign-exchange transactions and derivatives trading.

In 2011, Standard Bank began unwinding its expansion strategy in emerging markets and announced asset sales in Russia, Turkey and Argentina to raise cash for investment elsewhere in Africa.

The following year, it completed the sale of 80 percent of its Argentine division for about $400m to Industrial & Commercial Bank of China. – Bloomberg

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