(Recasts to add details on Lulia’s focus, details on Stewart, strategy throughout)
By Guillermo Parra-Bernal and Tatiana Bautzer
SAO PAULO, Dec 21 (Reuters) - Banco Itaú BBA International SA, the London-based wholesale and investment-banking arm of Itaú Unibanco Holding SA, appointed Renato Lulia as chief executive officer on Monday, as Latin America’s largest lender by market value strengthens ties with European and Asian investors.
Lulia, an Itaú executive for 14 years, replaces Charles Stewart, who joined Itaú BBA International in March 2013 from Morgan Stanley & Co. Lulia will report to Candido Bracher, Itaú Unibanco’s senior vice president for wholesale banking and CEO of Itaú BBA SA, the bank told Reuters.
Over the past four years, since Itaú decided to transfer Itaú BBA International’s headquarters from Lisbon to London, the bank has grown in areas such as sales and products, capital markets and corporate and investment banking. Itaú BBA International provides support to Itaú BBA by linking clients in Latin America seeking to increase business ties with Asian and European investors, and vice versa.
In a Monday phone interview with Reuters, Lulia said the political and economic turmoil in Brazil is creating opportunities for investors in Europe and Asia to enter Latin America’s largest economy at attractive valuations, either in capital markets or through mergers and acquisitions.
“Some assets that might not otherwise be available may become interesting targets for international investors,” said Lulia, who previously was head of corporate and investment banking for Europe, Portugal and Asia.
According to Lulia, Itaú BBA International’s main goal is to help position Itaú Unibanco as the “Latin America specialist banker for Latin America investments.” The São Paulo-based group expects Latin America investment-banking transactions to earn about one-third of total fees within three to five years.
Itaú BBA is currently the top M&A advisor in Latin America in number of deals this year, having worked in 46 transactions worth $10.5 billion. In terms of deal volume, Itaú BBA is ranked fourth.
A source with knowledge of the situation said Stewart left to work for an unspecified U.S. cable TV firm. Efforts to contact Stewart for comment were unsuccessful. (Editing by Leslie Adler and Chris Reese)