BTG Plans Mexico Expansion Focused on Trading, Asset Management

  • Bank plans to add 8 people to 45-person office for trading
  • Mexican asset-management unit may also begin later this year

Grupo BTG Pactual, the Brazilian bank that was forced to sell assets and cut payroll after the arrest of its founder last year, is renewing a push to expand in Mexico.

The Mexico City office, now with about 45 people, plans to hire eight more employees within eight to 10 months to focus on fixed-income and currency trading, the unit’s chairman, Guillermo Ortiz, said in an interview. The Sao Paulo-based bank also expects to add staff as soon as the second half of this year for an asset-management operation.

Some expansion plans were put on hold after then-Chief Executive Officer Andre Esteves was arrested in November in connection with a sweeping corruption investigation in Brazil. The billionaire, who had denied any wrongdoing, was released in April and returned to the firm as a senior partner and adviser.

BTG sold some assets as it shares plunged during Esteves’s imprisonment, and it obtained a government rescue package of 6 billion reals ($1.7 billion) in December. Now, Ortiz said the firm sees opportunities to grow as banks face restrictions on proprietary trading and some competitors exit markets.

Business Expanding

“Others are leaving and we’re in the process of expanding,” he said. “In Mexico, this operation is from scratch.”

Banco Itau BBA SA and Deutsche Bank AG are both selling their Mexican brokerages. Mexico’s economy is set to expand for a seventh year as Brazil is muddling through its worst recession in a century.

BTG opened a broker-dealer in Mexico in March 2014. The local unit’s CEO Javier Artigas said in early 2015 the bank was looking to expand that business and had invested more than $1 million to create a platform to serve high-frequency traders. At the time, the bank was also looking to add people in credit analysis and investment banking.

“The plans for Mexico are moving forward,” Ortiz said. “It’s all going to happen, it’s simply just been delayed.”

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