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Itau Says It’s in Talks to Buy Corpbanca in Expansion in Chile

Dec. 11 (Bloomberg) -- Itau Unibanco Holding SA, Brazil’s biggest bank by market value, is in talks to acquire a majority stake in Santiago-based Corpbanca.

“It’s true we are negotiating with this bank,” Candido Bracher, chief executive officer of the Sao Paulo-based lenders’s wholesale unit, told reporters today. Itau isn’t interested in a minority stake, Bracher said. Corpbanca has a market capitalization of about 2.39 trillion pesos ($4.5 billion).

Bracher, who runs Banco Itau BBA SA, said there are other banks negotiating with Corpbanca, which he declined to name. “We are very keen on winning this competition,” he said.

Roberto Setubal, Itau’s CEO, said on Nov. 12 that Chile is a priority market and the bank is considering acquisitions in Latin America.

Billionaire Alvaro Saieh and his family directly and indirectly own 76 percent of Corpbanca, according to its annual report. Saieh hired Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Bank of America Corp. to sell a controlling stake, two people familiar with the matter said last month.

Colombian-born Saieh, who has a doctorate in economics from the University of Chicago and whose family immigrated to Chile when he was three years old, built Corpbanca into Chile’s fifth-biggest bank by assets. The lender’s shares have tripled since the company went public in 2002.

To contact the reporters on this story: Francisco Marcelino in Sao Paulo at mdeoliveira@bloomberg.net; Cristiane Lucchesi in Sao Paulo at clucchesi5@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peter Eichenbaum at peichenbaum@bloomberg.net

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