UBS Brazil CEO Weighs Purchases Amid Wealth-Management Expansion

(Bloomberg) -- UBS, the biggest Swiss bank, is considering buying a wealth-management firm in Brazil as it seeks to expand that business sevenfold by 2020, said Sylvia Coutinho, chief executive officer of the lender’s Brazilunit.

“We are looking for acquisition opportunities in the Brazilian market,” Coutinho said July 31 in her first interview since taking the job last year.

UBS plans to hire more people for its wealth business and open offices in Rio de Janeiro and Belo Horizonte to serve high- net-worth clients even if it can’t find a firm to buy, she said. The focus will be on those with assets of 5 million reais ($2.2 million) or more to invest, said Coutinho, formerly head of retail banking and wealth management for Latin America at HSBC Holdings Plc.

UBS is expanding wealth management in emerging markets and Asia as it scales back in investment banking and exits most debt-trading businesses amid stricter capital requirements. The Zurich-based firm ranked as the world’s biggest wealth manager for a second straight year as assets under management rose 15%to $1.97 trillion, according to a report last month by Scorpio Partnership, a London-based consultant.

Credit Suisse Group AG also has expanded its wealth- management operations in Brazil, opening offices in Belo Horizonte and Porto Alegre, while reaching partnership deals with local fund managers, said Jose Olympio Pereira, the bank’s Brazil CEO. In March, Zurich-based Julius Baer Group Ltd. increased its stake in GPS Investimentos Financeiros & Participacoes SA, a Brazilian financial firm, to 80%from 30%to gain more clients.

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