The Bank of Brazil (BB) is finally going to open a representation office in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates. The project was announced in May 2005, at the time of the Summit of Arab-South American Countries, and the office should start operating in March.
The executive responsible for the business, Renato Gerundio de Azevedo, a career employee at the bank, with ample experience in the foreign market, has been living in the emirate since December and is getting ready for official inauguration of the installations.
"We are currently undergoing the installation process and perspectives are for official inauguration to take place in March," said Azevedo.
The office, according to him, should be turned to prospecting new business for the bank, supporting Brazilian companies that operate in the region and to searching for Arab investors interested in investing in Brazil. "We want to bring investors in the Middle East closer to the Brazilian market," he added.
For the time being, Azevedo has been promoting market reconnaissance work and organizing with local authorities the necessary documentation for operation of the representative office.
He has already observed that Dubai has a "very good" business environment, that there are Brazilian companies operating strongly there and that there is space for investor attraction.
The executive has gone there for good, so much so that he has taken his family, wife and four children who are going to proceed with their studies in Dubai. "The city is very cosmopolitan, safe and prosperous," he said.
Azevedo, aged 41, has been working at the BB for 26 and has already worked in the bank offices in Panama and Bolivia, and in the latter, he spent six years as operations manager. Apart from that, he has also worked in the international board structuring foreign business. "I have 20 years of experience in foreign business," he said.
The BB is the oldest bank in Brazil, it was established by Emperor John VI, of Portugal, in 1809, still in the colonial period. It is currently one of the largest companies in Latin America. At the end of last year, the bank reached a market value of US$ 42.5 billion, which placed it in the seventh place among the main Latin American companies with closed capital, and in the third place among the banks.
A mixed economy company, the BB has the government of Brazil as its main shareholder and controller and the remaining shares in the hands of natural people and companies in Brazil and abroad. Almost 15% of the bank's capital is traded freely on the São Paulo Stock Exchange (Bovespa).
The BB competes with Bradesco and Itaú, the two largest private banks in Brazil, for leadership in the Brazilian banking sector. Last year, Bradesco and Itaú posted record profits, the largest in the banking sector's history.
The BB's figures for 2007 should be disclosed on the 26th. From January to September last year, the bank had net profit of 3.8 billion reais (US$ 2.2 billion at current exchange rates).
In Brazil the bank has over 4,000 branches and 40,000 ATMs. Abroad it has over 40 points of customer service in countries in the Americas, Africa, Asia and Europe.
In January, the BB reached a total of 1 billion Brazilian reais (US$ 572 million) turned to the financing for productive clusters. Approximately 7,000 enterprises were benefited. The money was used for turning capital, investment, foreign trade and agribusiness.
For four years the BB has turned credit to clusters. In 2003, when the program started, just 68 million reais (US$ 39 million at current exchange rates) were turned to the program. In 2008, the BB intends to aid 170 clusters, and the plan is to turn 1.5 billion reais (US$ 859 million) in their direction.
Apart from differentiated conditions in the available lines of credit, the companies participating in the clusters can count on the managers at the bank who know of the collective needs of the community and of the companies, and who are prepared to present adequate banking solutions to the sector.
Renato Gerundio Azevedo
Anba – www.anba.com.br
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