Corpbanca Said to Hire Goldman, Bofa to Sell Stake in Bank

Billionaire Alvaro Saieh hired Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Bank of America Corp. to sell a controlling stake in Corpbanca, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Itau Unibanco Holding SA is one of the banks they have approached, said one of the two people, who asked not to be named because the negotiations are private. Santiago-based Corpbanca has a market value of $4.22 billion. Saieh and his family directly and indirectly own 76 percent of the bank, according to its most recent annual report.

Itau’s chief executive officer, Roberto Setubal, told analysts on an earning conference call on Nov. 12 that Chile is a priority market and that the bank is considering acquisitions in Latin America. Neither Corpbanca nor its controler have made any agreement to sell all or part of the bank, chief executive officer Fernando Massu said today in a statement to the stock exchange.

Michael Duvally, a spokesman from Goldman Sachs in New York, declined to comment on the transaction, as did Kerrie McHugh, a spokeswoman from Bank of America in New York. Itau also declined to comment, according to an official who asked not to be named in keeping with company policy.

Share Rally

Corpbanca’s shares leaped 7.9 percent to 6.60 pesos today in Santiago, bringing their gain to 40 percent since reaching a low of 4.727 pesos on Aug. 28. The stock is up 3.6 percent so far this year, while the IPSA index of Chile’s most-traded stock has fallen 13.1 percent. Corpbanca’s bonds due 2018 have returned 0.7 percent this month, beating losses in bonds of Banco de Chile, Banco Santander Chile and Banco de Credito & Inversiones.

Chilean securities regulation stipulates that a bidder must present a public offer to all shareholders of a listed company if it’s seeking effective control of the target, or if the buyer increases an existing stake above two thirds of all shares. If a bidder is seeking to buy a non-listed company whose assets are mostly stakes in a listed firm, the law will also require it to bid for the publicly traded unit.

Saieh completed the investment of an additional $300 million in his supermarket chain SMU SA last week after losses at the company led it to break debt covenants. SMU’s $300 million of bonds due 2020 have lost 37 percent this year.

Asset Sales

Saieh sold other assets as he sought to fund the cash injection into SMU. Inversiones La Construccion SA said on Oct. 1 it would pay $170 million in cash and assumed debt for a 67 percent stake in Corp Group Vida Chile SA, the holding company through which Saieh controls two insurers. He also sold 31 bank branches for $83 million to Independencia Rentas Inmobiliarias, a real estate fund that will lease the space back to Corpbanca.

El Mostrador website reported today that Corpbanca was in talks with four banks, including Itau, over a possible merger that would enable Saieh to retain some control over the bank, citing a document drawn up by Bank of America. The other banks are Banco de Credito e Inversiones, Bank of Nova Scotia and Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA, the website said.

Paul Tobin, a spokesman for BBVA in Madrid, declined to comment. Calls to a press official at BCI weren’t immediately returned. Bank of Nova Scotia doesn’t comment on rumors, spokeswoamn Paula Cufre said in an e-mail.

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 bank’s shares have tripled since the company went public in 2002.

Saieh now sits on the board of his alma mater, alongside Credit Suisse Group AG CEO Brady Dougan, and in his spare time collects Italian renaissance art. Last year he outbid the Los Angeles County Museum of Art to buy Girolamo Romanino’s Christ Carrying the Cross for $4.6 million, according to Saieh is a member of the European paintings visiting committee of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

He stood down from the board of Corpbanca in February of last year.

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