BRASILIA

The Pak Banker - - COMPANIES/BOSS -

Banco San­tander Brasil, the largest over­seas bank do­ing busi­ness in Brazil, re­mains in­ter­ested in ac­quir­ing the lo­cal unit of HSBC Hold­ings Plc , and has pre­sented a "com­pet­i­tive" of­fer for it, Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer Jesús Za­balza said on Thurs­day. The run-up to the sale of HSBC Bank Brasil SA Banco Múlti­plo, as the unit is known, has gath­ered mo­men­tum since the plans were first made public in May. Ear­lier this month, Reuters re­ported that ri­val Banco Brade­sco SA, Brazil's No. 2 pri­vate-sec­tor bank, had be­gan ex­clu­sive talks to ac­quire the unit. A source with knowl­edge of the sit­u­a­tion said at the time that the Brade­sco bid val­ued HSBC Brasil at about 12 bil­lion reais ($3.56 bil­lion), or 1.2 times book value. Ear­lier on Thurs­day, Brade­sco CEO Luiz Car­los Trabuco de­clined com­ment on the bank's bid for HSBC Brasil.

Za­balza did not elab­o­rate on San­tander Brasil's of­fer for HSBC Brasil. He said San­tander Brasil "re­mains in the dis­pute" for the unit. He re­fused to an­swer ques­tions about whether Brade­sco was ex­clu­sively ne­go­ti­at­ing for HSBC Brasil.

HSBC's exit from Brazil comes as large lo­cal lenders out­per­form smaller ri­vals and gain more mus­cle to ride out Brazil's de­te­ri­o­rat­ing econ­omy.

"All I can tell you is that we're very in­ter­ested, the of­fer we made was a very good one," Za­balza said on a con­fer­ence call to dis­cuss sec­ond-quar­ter earn­ings. "We'll only write off our chances when the process is over."

Za­balza's re­marks un­der­score the ap­peal of adding as­sets to San­tander Brasil's plat­form to nar­row the gap with larger ri­vals. How­ever, he re­asserted that San­tander Brasil's fo­cus is to grow or­gan­i­cally as Brazil's econ­omy sags.

Units of San­tander Brasil, the len­der's most widely traded class of stock, shed 2.6 per­cent to 15.68 reais fol­low­ing Za­balza's re­marks about HSBC.

A suc­cess­ful bid for the HSBC unit could dis­tract San­tander Brasil from a re­or­ga­ni­za­tion plan in­clud­ing boost­ing re­turns and grab­bing mar­ket share af­ter years of un­der­per­for­mance.

Profit at San­tander Brasil SA topped es­ti­mates in the sec­ond quar­ter as a jump in in­ter­est in­come helped off­set the im­pact of ris­ing ex­penses and de­clin­ing loan dis­burse­ments.

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