Itau BBA Hires Mexico CEO With Plan to Open Broker-Dealer

Banco Itau BBA SA hired Alberto Mulas, Mexico’s first national housing commissioner, to lead the firm’s corporate and investment-banking expansion there.

Mulas, 52, will be chief executive officer for Mexico, where the Sao Paulo-based company plans to open a broker-dealer, Jean Marc Etlin, CEO of Itau BBA’s investment-banking division, said in an interview. The firm offers loans, merger advice and debt and equity underwriting in the country.

Mexico “is Latin America’s second-largest market for corporate and investment banking and is growing fast,” Etlin said. The bank hopes to establish “long-term relationships with Mexican companies and entrepreneurs,” he said.

The nation is luring dealmakers and traders as demand for investment-banking services increases. Equity offerings climbed to $9.68 billion so far this year, compared with $8.24 billion for all of 2012, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Still, economic growth slowed this year after the government reduced spending and cut its 2013 growth estimate in August to 1.8 percent from 3.1 percent.

Itau BBA, the wholesale banking arm of Itau Unibanco Holding SA, Brazil’s biggest lender by market value, will offer investment-banking services supported by dollar- or real-denominated credit lines to Mexican companies, Etlin said. Such firms have received loans from the bank in those two currencies equal to about 1.2 billion reais ($514 million).

Equity Research

Itau plans to have as many as 50 employees in Mexico within the next two years, Etlin said. The bank hired three analysts last year to expand equity research in the country, doubling the team’s size, and said it needs units throughout Latin America to serve global companies operating in the region.

Itau BBA was an underwriter for a $2.5 billion share sale by Grupo Financiero Banorte SAB in Mexico this year and worked on Grupo Financiero Santander Mexico SAB de CV’s $4.1 billion public offering in 2012. It also helped state oil company Petroleos Mexicanos sell $3 billion of bonds in July.

Earlier this year, Itau BBA hired Morgan Stanley’s Javier Grana to oversee mergers and acquisitions in Latin America, and Marcel Patino, formerly the head of corporate and investment banking for Citigroup Inc.’s Colombia business, to lead investment banking in that country. Itau said in October it would invest 395 million reais in Colombia and plans to open a bank in Peru in 2014.

In 2001, Mulas was named Mexico’s national housing coordinator, reporting directly to the office of then-President Vicente Fox as a member of his extended cabinet, and later was appointed the country’s first national housing commissioner. In 2003, he founded CReSCE Consultores SC, a boutique advisory firm specializing in mergers, restructurings, equity investments and corporate governance.

Mulas spent 13 years in investment banking, heading the Mexico business for Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette from 1999 to 2001 and for Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. from 1992 to 1996. Mulas, who has a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, was a vice president at JPMorgan Chase & Co. from 1990 through 1992.

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