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MOGI MIRIM, Brazil, March 13 (Reuters) - Itaú Unibanco Holding SA inaugurated on Friday a data center that will boost its capacity to handle transactions 25-fold and control costs as Brazil's largest bank by market value bets on efficiency to protect profits.
The data center, which cost Itaú about 3.3 billion reais, is part of an 11.1-billion-real push to improve operational efficiency through technology investments.
Chief Executive Roberto Setubal is betting on strict cost controls and the offering of more products and services as a way to counter a slowing economy.
The 151,000 square meter (180,500 square yards)facility, equivalent to 114 football pitches, will allow Itaú to cope with growing demand for financial transactions through 2050, Setubal said at a news conference. Last year, Itaú processed 31 billion transactions, and the new data center will allow that number to attain 35 billion this year.
"This is a step towards preparing us for the future," Setubal said.
Setubal's efforts to focus on profitability and efficiency at the expense of market share has allowed the São Paulo-based lender to out-perform rivals every quarter for the past two years.
The data center is key to the bank's effort to keep growth in sales and general and administrative expenses below annual inflation in the coming years, Setubal and other executives have repeatedly said. (Editing by Reese Ewing and Chizu Nomiyama)