Bloomberg Anywhere Remote Login Bloomberg Terminal Request a Demo

Bloomberg

Connecting decision makers to a dynamic network of information, people and ideas, Bloomberg quickly and accurately delivers business and financial information, news and insight around the world.

Company

Financial Products

Enterprise Products

Media

Customer Support

  • Americas

    +1 212 318 2000

  • Europe, Middle East, & Africa

    +44 20 7330 7500

  • Asia Pacific

    +65 6212 1000

Communications

Industry Products

Media Services

Follow Us

Brazil Urges Court to Be Sensible on $65 Billion Bank Threat

Nov. 27 (Bloomberg) -- Brazil’s cabinet chief, Gleisi Hoffmann, urged the Supreme Court to be reasonable as it begins deliberations today on lawsuits dating back two decades that threaten to cost the nation’s lenders a quarter of the capital in the banking system.

“This wouldn’t be a loss for the banks, it would be a loss for the country,” Hoffmann said in an interview at her office yesterday. “I want the Supreme Court to be sensible and rule in favor of the country.”

STF, as the high court is known, will begin voting on five cases at around 2 p.m. in Brasilia, a court official said yesterday. It’s unlikely judges will render a final decision today, the official said.

Lenders including Itau Unibanco Holding SA and Banco do Brasil SA are being targeted by depositors seeking reimbursement for losses stemming from government policies adopted to fight hyperinflation in the 1980s and 1990s. The central bank estimates lenders would have to pay 149 billion reais ($65 billion) to depositors and may reduce lending by as much as 1 trillion reais if the court rules against them.

“A cut of 1 trillion reais in credit would be bad not only for the banks, but for the whole economy,” Andre Riva Gargiulo, an analyst at brokerage GBM Grupo Bursatil Mexicano SA in Sao Paulo, said in a telephone interview yesterday. “There is a massive mobilization by the government and former officials to favor the banks.”

Economic Impact

President Dilma Rousseff asked her cabinet to persuade the court to delay a ruling, arguing a reduction in credit would worsen an economy already cooling because of higher inflation and a widening budget gap, according to two government officials briefed on the matter.

Banco do Brasil dropped 13 percent since Nov. 8, when the court set the date for a ruling, through yesterday, compared with a 2.5 percent loss for the Ibovespa benchmark index. The Brasilia-based lender rose 1.5 percent to 25.11 reais in Sao Paulo at 11:54 a.m.

Officials at Banco do Brasil and Itau declined to comment.

Federally controlled Banco do Brasil and Caixa Economica Federal “are likely the most impacted banks since they are the largest holders of savings accounts in the country,” analysts at JPMorgan Chase & Co. including Natalia Corfield wrote in a note to clients Nov. 25. An official at Caixa declined to comment.

The Brazilian Institute of Consumer Defense, which submitted a brief in support of the claims against the nation’s banks, said lenders benefited from the government’s actions, according to a statement on its website. Febraban, the country’s banking association, said lenders complied with the law that was in effect at the time, according to an e-mailed statement.

To contact the reporters on this story: Francisco Marcelino in Sao Paulo at mdeoliveira@bloomberg.net; Carla Simoes in Brasilia Newsroom at csimoes1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Peter Eichenbaum at peichenbaum@bloomberg.net; Andre Soliani at asoliani@bloomberg.net

Please upgrade your Browser

Your browser is out-of-date. Please download one of these excellent browsers:

Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera or Internet Explorer.