BankBoston Corp. has announced moves designed to bolster its longtime presence in South America.
The company is expanding its capital markets and syndicated lending operations in Brazil and spending $100 million to build a new headquarters in Buenos Aires for its Argentina operations.
The two moves come barely a month after the $69 billion-asset company reorganized its Asian operations to develop capital markets business in that part of the world.
BankBoston plans to develop underwriting of stocks and bonds in Brazil as Brazilian companies turn to the domestic capital markets for funding.
The banking company also confirmed reports quoting BankBoston president Henrique de Campos Meirelles on plans to expand advisory activities as privatization increases in Brazil, Latin America's largest economy.
Stephen DeSalvo, managing director of emerging capital markets and syndications, said BankBoston expects to do more international debt underwriting for Brazilian companies as well. Last year the banking company underwrote $1.675 billion in international bonds for emerging market customers, including $550 million on behalf of Brazilian borrowers.
"We plan to be an active player on international markets, " Mr. DeSalvo said.
He predicted that both privatizations and economic growth will spur increased borrowings by Brazilian companies this year.
"We are very bullish on the tremendous demand for capital out of Brazil," Mr. DeSalvo said.
In a ceremony attended by President Carlos Menem of Argentina, Mr. Meirelles, and BankBoston chairman Charles A. "Chad" Gifford, the company last week broke ground for a $100 million, 29-story headquarters.
The new building, which will accommodate some 2,400 employees, will replace a landmark headquarters built early in the century. That building will continue to house data processing and telemarketing and serve as the company's main retail and customer service branch in the city.
Few foreign banking companies are as big in Argentina as BankBoston. It runs the fourth-largest privately owned bank in the country, with 81 branches and $6.6 billion of assets there.
BankBoston opened its first Latin American office in Buenos Aires, in 1917, and has since established 150 offices in 10 countries with some 6,800 employees. Revenues from Latin America reached $1 billion last year, around 16% of total earnings.
Mr. Meirelles has often said that he envisions opportunities for further growth in Latin America in capital markets, private banking, retail banking, and asset management.
As part of a program to expand business, the company last summer announced plans to build 70 new branches across Argentina.
That program, combined with the acquisition of Deutsche Bank's Argentine retail operations in September, would give BankBoston 140 branches in Argentina by then. No U.S. banking company has so large a network in a foreign country.