Itau Says $7.8 Billion Tax Charge Confirmed by Brazil

Itau Unibanco Holding SA, Latin America’s largest bank by market value, said Brazil’s tax agency confirmed a decision to levy charges of 18.7 billion reais ($7.8 billion) on the purchase of Unibanco in 2008.

Itau will appeal the decision by the nation’s internal revenue service, which wasn’t unanimous, according to the Sao Paulo-based bank. The acquisition was “legitimate,” approved by the companies’ corporate leaders and “ratified by the appropriate authorities,” the bank said in a statement today.

The company “reiterates its belief that the risk of loss with respect to the tax assessment in question is remote,” Itau said in the statement, which was signed by Alfredo Setubal, director of investor relations.

Itau agreed to buy Unibanco for about 26.7 billion reais in 2008, the biggest Brazilian banking-industry deal. Last week, the lender said it was acquiring a controlling stake in Chile’s Corpbanca for at least $2.2 billion. Itau releases its fourth-quarter results tomorrow.

The bank declined 0.6 percent to 30.10 reais in Sao Paulo at 11:57 a.m., compared with a drop of 0.7 percent for Brazil’s Ibovespa benchmark index.

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