BofA Names Brazil Chief Bettamio to Head Latin America

Bank of America Corp., the second-largest U.S. bank, named Brazil Chief Executive Officer Alexandre Bettamio head of its Latin America business.

Bettamio will be based in New York, according to Kerrie McHugh, a spokeswoman for Charlotte, North Carolina-based Bank of America. No replacement to lead Brazil has been named, McHugh said.

Bettamio became head of Brazilian investment banking for Merrill Lynch & Co. in March 2008 and has been CEO of the business since September 2008, the same month Bank of America agreed to buy Merrill Lynch. The company has since expanded the Brazil subsidiary into corporate banking. Bettamio was previously co-head of investment banking in Brazil for UBS-Pactual.

Bank of America was the top equity underwriter for Latin America last year. The bank plans to boost hiring in Brazil and increase a $10 billion loan portfolio there by 40 percent after it tripled in the past three years, Bettamio said in an interview on April 23.

Corporate and investment-banking coverage will jump to 150 companies from 100 and hiring in Brazil will continue to rise during the next two years after the staff doubled since 2009, Bettamio said.

Bank of America had 471 workers in Brazil as of December, according to central bank data. The company doesn’t disclose how much of its revenue comes from Brazil.

State Loans

Bank of America helped finance Brazilian state government loans after Brazil authorized 21 of them in August to borrow a total of 60 billion reais ($26.6 billion) through 2014 with federal guarantees. The deals allow the governments to raise funds for investment and to refinance debt tied to a 1997 federal bailout.

The state of Mato Grosso agreed in November to borrow $478 million from Bank of America at a 5 percent interest rate to redeem some of its 4.6 billion reais of Treasury debt, which has an interest rate of about 14 percent. The bank did a $726 million financing for Santa Catarina and is negotiating with Rio de Janeiro for a $750 million loan, winning the business over a competing bid from Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Banco Santander SA.

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