* Interbank is first Peruvian bank to open Brazil office
* Seeks to tap growing bilateral trade opportunities
* Sees Brazil investment in Peru rising to $11 bln by 2016
By Guillermo Parra-Bernal
SAO PAULO, March 14 (Reuters) - Interbank, Peru’s fourth-largest lender by assets, opened an office in Brazil on Wednesday to take advantage of an expected surge in trade and investment ties between the South American nations.
Brazilian companies will increase investments in Peru to $11 billion by 2016 from $1 billion now, Interbank Chief Executive Luis Felipe Castellanos said. Advisory services such as helping Brazilian firms get a foothold in Peru, and vice versa, should allow Interbank to participate in more than $150 million of deals over that period, he said.
“The goal of this office is building bridges between companies in Brazil and Peru, taking advantage of the growing ties and proximity between the nations,” Castellanos said.
Interbank’s plan is an example of growing capital flows and trade ties among emerging-market nations as economies in the developed world struggle. Brazil’s government has made so-called “South-South relations” a priority in recent years, encouraging local companies to expand in emerging economies from Latin America to Africa to the Middle East.
Interbank’s strategy seeks to replicate what Castellanos dubbed bank’s “very successful decision” to open an office in Shanghai in 2007. That office has allowed Interbank to participate in $160 million worth of bilateral deals between Chinese and Peruvian companies.
One goal, Castellanos said, is to take advantage of the offices in China and Brazil to bring Interbank’s clients in those countries closer, “using Peru as a common ground for them to do business.”
“We think the office in Brazil could yield a greater amount than that in China because of the proximity of both countries and, especially, because of our learning curve with the Shanghai office,” Castellanos said.
Sectors in which Brazilian companies could further invest in Peru include mining, textiles, infrastructure, energy and construction. Brazil’s largest construction conglomerates are working on massive projects in the Andean nation, and its mining companies are tapping Peru’s vast reserves of zinc, nickel and copper.
Marcelo Sanchez, a banker who led the New York-based operations of Itau Unibanco Holding for seven years, will lead Interbank’s Brazil office in Sao Paulo. Itau Unibanco is Brazil’s largest private-sector bank.