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UPDATE 2-Brazil's Itau names new CEO, signaling generational change

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SAO PAULO, Oct 29 (Reuters) - Itau Unibanco Holding SA on Thursday tapped Chief Financial Officer Milton Maluhy Filho as its new chief executive, ushering a generational change at Brazil’s largest bank.

Maluh, 44, will replace Candido Bracher, who had been in the position for roughly three years, starting on Feb. 2, according to a securities filing. Bracher, who will reach the bank’s mandatory retirement age of 62 in December, will return to its the board of directors next year.

Maluhy will become the youngest CEO among Brazil’s biggest listed lenders and will assume control of a bank which has solid financials but still faces challenges in competing with fintechs who have roiled the market in recent years.

Maluhy started his career at Itau in 2002 and has since taken various roles, including as CEO of Itau Corpbanca Chile, an acquisition that has underperformed expectations, although Maluhy made some strides toward boosting its performance.

“In every one of these positions, he has always stood out for his determination in the search for results, his focus on the interests of our clients, his ability to assemble productive, well- balanced teams and the huge extent to which he identifies with our culture,” Itau said in a statement.

CHALLENGES

Looking ahead, Maluhy will have to contend with the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, which has already led the bank to set aside billions for potential losses.

The bank also most take on agile new rivals such as card processors PagSeguro Digital Ltd, StoneCo Ltd and XP Inc, in which Itau decided to acquire a stake. The card processors have lured many clients from traditional banks and put pressure on fees.

A new breed of online banks loom as a big challenge for lenders like Itau, which are saddled with costly brick-and-mortar branches.

“The priorities now are turned to the digitalization of our operations and in the relentless search for growth in a particularly dynamic competitive environment,” co-chairmen Pedro Moreira Salles and Roberto Setubal said in a letter to Itau’s employees.

Reporting by Carolina Mandl; Editing by Sandra Maler, Christian Plumb and Aurora Ellis

Nuestros Estándares: Los principios Thomson Reuters.

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