SAO PAULO, Aug 4 (Reuters) - State-owned lender Banco do Brasil SA is in talks to hire JPMorgan Chase & Co to advise on a potential sale of the Brazilian bank's stake in Argentina's Banco Patagonia SA, a source with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters on Thursday.
"We are close to hiring JPMorgan," said the source, who asked for anonymity because the matter should not be discussed publicly. The Brazilian lender has not yet decided whether to sell all or part of its 59 percent stake in Banco Patagonia.
Spokesmen for Banco do Brasil and JPMorgan declined to comment.
The deal could pave the way for the sale of a group of assets owned by Banco do Brasil, such as a stake in grain storage systems producer Kepler Weber Industrial SA and a controlling stake in US EuroBank, founded in 1991 and headquartered in Miami.
Bloomberg reported earlier on Thursday that Banco do Brasil was hiring JPMorgan for the deal.
The Brazilian lender bought a controlling stake in Patagonia six years ago for $480 million and EuroBank four years ago, as a way of growing its international operations. But the plan was halted later as the government decided to expand domestic credit by state-owned banks.
Banco do Brasil wants to sell non-core assets to strengthen its capital base, as Brazilian lenders grapple with the effects of the sharpest recession in more than eight decades, which is raising bankruptcies and credit delinquencies to record levels. (Reporting by Aluísio Alves; Writing by Tatiana Bautzer; Editing by Phil Berlowitz)