BTG Pactual Said to Plan Sale of Swiss Private Bank BSI

Updated on
  • Brazil firm acquired BSI from Assicurazioni in September
  • BTG is divesting `non-essential' assets, chairman says

Grupo BTG Pactual SA, the Brazilian bank trying to shore up cash after the arrest of its billionaire founder, is seeking to sell BSI, the Swiss private-banking unit it acquired three months ago, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.

No details about the size of a potential transaction were provided by the person, who asked not to be identified because the matter is private. BTG acquired BSI from Italy’s Assicurazioni Generali SpA for 1.25 billion Swiss francs ($1.28 billion) in September. The transaction boosted BTG’s assets under management to $186.5 billion from $99 billion.

An official at Sao Paulo-based BTG declined to comment on BSI sale talks, as did Valeria Montesoro, a spokeswoman for BSI in Lugano, Switzerland.

Andre Esteves, 47, resigned as BTG’s chief executive officer and chairman on Nov. 29 after being taken into custody on suspicion of trying to obstruct a corruption probe. Esteves has denied any wrongdoing through his lawyers.

BTG is divesting “non-essential” assets, Chairman Persio Arida said Wednesday.

The company’s assets offer it “plenty of room to maneuver,” Edinho Silva, Brazil’s social communication minister, said Thursday in an interview.

“It’s a solid bank, and up until now, nothing indicates that there’s a crisis at the bank,” Silva said.

A buyer for BSI is more likely to be found outside of Brazil, as the country’s two largest domestic banks, Itau Unibanco Holding SA and Banco Bradesco SA, already are engaged in other transactions, said Max Bohm, an analyst at Sao Paulo-based consulting firm Empiricus Research. “Bradesco’s focus is Brazil and Itau’s, Latin America," he said.

Among holdings on the block is BTG’s stake in retailer Uniao de Lojas Leader SA, a person with knowledge of the matter said. The most likely buyer of that holding is the family of founder Newton Gouvea, who died earlier this year, the person said. Conversations with the Gouvea family are at an early stage and may stall over price, the person said.

Also up for sale is a controlling stake in parking-lot company Allpark Empreendimentos Participacoes e Servicos SA, which could sell for about 1.5 billion reais, two people with knowledge of the situation said this week.

— With assistance by Giles Broom, and Katia Porzecanski

(Updates with minister's comment in sixth paragraph.)
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