UPDATE 4-Itaú's Setubal eyes Banamex as potential entry to Mexico

martes 16 de diciembre de 2014 19:34 GYT

(Adds Citigroup comment, additional details throughout)

By Aluísio Alves and Guillermo Parra-Bernal

SAO PAULO Dec 16 (Reuters) - Itaú Unibanco Holding SA , Latin America's largest bank by market value, wants to enter the Mexican retail banking market and is eyeing Grupo Financiero Banamex SA as a potential way in, Chief Executive Officer Roberto Egydio Setubal said on Tuesday.

Speaking to shareholders at an event in São Paulo, Setubal did not elaborate on Itaú's strategy for Mexico. Earlier, his brother Alfredo, Itaú's senior vice president for investor relations, said Itaú was in no rush to buy a rival overseas as a currency slump made foreign acquisitions more expensive.

Itaú's interest in Banamex, which was acquired by Citigroup Inc in August 2001 for $12.5 billion, comes as Setubal seeks to build the São Paulo-based lender into the largest Latin American financial conglomerate. Itaú has wholesale banking operations in the region's main countries and is building a retail banking presence in Chile and Colombia through a tie-up with CorpBanca SA.

"Itaú Unibanco has an interest in entering the Mexican market ... Banamex is an option that could be evaluated," Setubal said in response to a question from a shareholder.

Asked by reporters about his comments on Banamex, Setubal said "there has been no contact" with Citigroup or Banamex.

Banamex declined to comment.

Citigroup spokesman Mark Costiglio said that the New York-based bank has repeatedly affirmed its commitment to Banamex. In September, Citigroup CEO Mike Corbat announced a $1.5 billion multiyear investment program in Mexico.   Continuación...