Inbursa Said Seeking to Buy Standard Bank’s Brazil Unit

Grupo Financiero Inbursa SAB, the bank controlled by billionaire Carlos Slim, is in talks to buy Standard Bank Group Ltd.’s Brazil unit for about 130 million reais ($59.3 million), two people with direct knowledge of the negotiations said.

Acquiring a bank is the easiest way to get a license and enter the Brazilian market, said one of the people, who requested anonymity because the talks are private.

“Standard Bank Group has already announced that its strategy is to reduce capital outside the African continent,” the Johannesburg-based company said yesterday in an e-mailed statement. “So, it is not strange that international banks that want to enter Brazil will sound out possibilities with Standard Bank. But the bank doesn’t comment on market rumors.”

Banco Standard de Investimentos SA, as the Brazil unit is known, had 500 million reais of assets in the country as of June, 82 percent less than the 2.9 billion reais reported a year earlier, according to central bank data. Total capital decreased 60 percent to 130 million reais.

Inbursa, a lender to businesses and consumers with operations that are mostly concentrated in Mexico, is making more investments abroad. Its participation in a syndicated loan to YPF SA resulted in Inbursa receiving shares last year after the Argentine oil producer defaulted.

Inbursa fell 2.8 percent to 32.22 pesos at the close in Mexico City. The shares have dropped 18 percent this year.

Slim, 73, the world’s second-richest person, owns a majority stake in Mexico City-based Inbursa valued at $9.67 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Arturo Elias, a spokesman for Slim, declined to comment.

Metals, Derivatives

Standard Bank, led by Joint Chief Executive Officers Sim Tshabalala and Ben Kruger, established an office in Sao 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 began unwinding its expansion strategy in emerging markets and announced asset sales in Russia, Turkey and Argentina to raise cash for investment in Africa.

In December, it completed the sale of 80 percent of its Argentine division for about $400 million to Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd. ICBC, which owns 20 percent of Standard, is expanding in Latin America. It opened in Peru in November and received authorization to open a bank in Brazil a month later.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. is advising Standard Bank and Grupo BTG Pactual is working with Inbursa, the person said. Michael DuVally, a spokesman for New York-based Goldman Sachs, declined to comment, as did an official for Sao Paulo-based BTG, asking not be identified in keeping with company policy.

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