UPDATE 1-BR Partners calls Moelis's hiring of its Brazil bankers 'unethical'

miércoles 12 de marzo de 2014 15:31 GYT

By Guillermo Parra-Bernal

SAO PAULO, March 12 (Reuters) - The hiring of three top bankers of BR Partners Banco do Investimento SA by New York-based Moelis & Co LLC was "improper and unethical," Ricardo Lacerda, chief executive officer of the Brazilian investment bank, said on Wednesday, adding that BR Partners is considering possible action.

The response came a day after Moelis hired Otávio Guazzelli, Jório Salgado-Gama and Erick Alberti from BR Partners to open its first office in Brazil. According to Lacerda, the executives were approached improperly, especially because 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.

"The bad faith and misconduct of Moelis is well documented and we are evaluating which actions to take," Lacerda said in a phone interview. He 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, he said, adding that Moelis has abused the relationship by luring away the executives.   Continuación...