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JPMorgan Expanding Argentine Business After Barclays Leaves

March 5 (Bloomberg) -- JPMorgan Chase & Co. is expanding its business in Argentina as the country remains a ``key'' market in the region, the bank’s senior country officer said.

JPMorgan, the largest U.S. bank, is leasing an additional three floors in its headquarters in Buenos Aires and hiring about 15 people this year, Facundo Gomez Minujin said. The New York-based bank has operated its local investment unit in Argentina since 1985, according to its website.

‘‘Argentina remains a key element of our JPMorgan franchise in Latin America,” Gomez Minujin wrote in an e-mail. “In the last 12 months we have increased our headcount.”

JPMorgan is expanding in South America’s second-largest economy even as competitors have cut staff and closed divisions amid a tightening of currency controls and financial oversight by President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner’s government. Barclays Plc closed its wealth management office in Buenos Aires in January 2012 “for strategic reasons” while Exotix, a brokerage, last year transferred some staff to New York and London due to regulations.

Gomez Minujin denied a report published today from Buenos Aires-based newspaper Clarin that the bank was leaving the country by the end of the month.

“We’re maintaining our presence Argentina just like we always have,” he said in a telephone interview.

To contact the reporter on this story: Camila Russo in Buenos Aires at crusso15@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: David Papadopoulos at papadopoulos@bloomberg.net

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