Brazilian bank Itaú Unibanco is eyeing the acquisition of Grupo Financiero Banamex, as part of its strategy to venture into the Mexican retail banking market.
Banamex was acquired by Citigroup for $12.5bn in August 2001.
Itaú is eyeing interest in Banamex as it intends to become the largest financial conglomerate in Latin America, reports Reuters.
Through a tie-up with its commercial bank in Chile CorpBanca, Itaú, which has wholesale banking operations in the region’s main countries, is in the process of building a retail banking presence in Chile as well as Colombia.
Itaú Unibanco chief executive officer Roberto Egydio Setubal told Reuters two years ago that the company’s attempts to purchase a rival in Mexico in recent years failed due to high prices.
In a separate announcement, Itaú said it will continue to sell insurance assets in Brazil that are not strategically crucial to the bank. It also intends to focus on insurance operations in low-risk segments.
As the outlook for revenue in lending and financial services remains tough, the management will focus on cost and expense control measures in 2015, according to the news agency.
Itaú Unibanco was formed in 2008 with the merger of Banco Itaú and Unibanco. It has operations in Argentina, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay in South America, as well as in the UK, Luxembourg and Portugal in Europe, Japan, China and Hong Kong in Asia and the US.
The company owns the second largest Brazilian card payment company Rede and has about 11% share in the Brazilian market for retail banking services.
Image: Itaú bank in Avaré, Brazil. Photo: courtesy of José Reynaldo da Fonseca