BR Partners says Moelis' hiring of its Brazil bankers 'unethical'
By Guillermo Parra-Bernal
SAO PAULO, March 12 (Reuters) - The chief executive officer of independent Brazilian investment bank BR Partners Banco do Investimento SA on Wednesday called Moelis & Co LLC's hiring of three of its top bankers "unethical" and are evaluating a potential response.
On Tuesday, Moelis hired Otávio Guazzelli, Jório Salgado-Gama and Erick Alberti from BR Partners to open the New York-based bank's first office in Brazil.
According to BR Partners CEO Ricardo Lacerda, the executives were approached improperly, especially since the two banks had worked together for over two years.
The relationship, developed during a series of transactions the two banks handled together, gave Moelis access to confidential information about BR Partners, Lacerda said. A Moelis spokeswoman denied any wrongdoing.
In a phone interview, Lacerda said, "the bad faith and misconduct of Moelis is well documented and we are evaluating which actions to take." He called Moelis' move "unethical and improper," but did not say what actions, legal or otherwise, BR Partners was considering.
The feud underscores the fierce battle for top executives in many areas of Brazil's financial markets.
Though local capital markets are facing the weakest year in more than a decade, the demand for banking talent continues, especially as some global banks pull back because of a sluggish economy. Fabio Okumura, the head of Itaú Unibanco Holding SA's proprietary trading desk, has quit and taken eight members of his team with him, sources said on Tuesday.
Lacerda said Moelis first approached BR Partners in 2011 to explore a potential cooperation agreement but nothing was ever finalized. The two banks worked together on several deals and Moelis, he added, has abused the relationship by luring away the executives. Continuación...