This $650 million all-stock acquisition, structured similarly to the previous deal (Bank of America' stake in Banco Itau will rise to 7.5%), will see Banco Itau significantly expand its geographic footprint in two of Latin America's fastest-growing economies: Chile, which experienced growth of roughly 6% in 2005, and Uruguay, which expanded at a 6.6% clip during the same period.
While exposure to fast-growing economies outside its domestic market is all well and good, these acquisitions also are leveraged to Banco Itau's traditional strengths -- service to high-net worth individuals in the case of the Chilean operations, and a leadership position in the credit card market in Uruguay -- which I consider the real kicker.
In Chile, Banco Itau will gain control of BankBoston (BKB) Chile, the country's 12th-largest financial institution, with assets of roughly $1.9 billion. BKB Chile is primarily focused on retail and wholesale banking, with more than 62,000 clients served by 50 branches. It currently holds roughly a 12% share of the "premium" -- i.e., high-net-worth-individual -- market.
In Uruguay, Banco Itau will gain ownership of the country's third-largest private bank in terms of assets ($708 million). That's not too shabby in and of itself, but the company will also get control of OCA, the country's largest issuer of credit and debit cards, a company that holds roughly a 50% share of the market.
In my Foolish opinion, these transactions -- expected to be accretive to earnings in the second half of 2007 -- are potential home runs. Banco Itau will be able to leverage its experience (and balance sheet) to drive growth in the "premium" market in Chile, while doing the same with credit card operations in Uruguay.(Remember that Banco Itau owns Brazil's largest credit card processing company.)
Investors should give credit where credit is due, and consider adding to their positions in this rapidly growing Brazilian giant. After all, what's good enough for Bank of America is probably good enough for me.
Broaden your horizons with these international banking articles:
- Banco Itau: Cashing In on Brazil's Growth
- Lloyds: Good News and Bad
- Is HSBC the Go-To Bank for Global Investors?
- HDFC Banks on India's Growth
Bank of America is a Motley Fool Income Investor recommendation. Lead analyst Mathew Emmert loves a good dividend, but he loves beating the market even more. Click here to learn more about dividend investing.