Banco do Brasil SA is planning to invest $40 million in the expansion of its U.S. operations, Allan Toledo, the Brazilian government-controlled bank's vice president for international operations, said Monday.

"We are planning to open between five and 10 agencies in the U.S. in order to serve Brazilian citizens living there," Toledo said. The investment will be made over the next five years.

He did not rule out an acquisition in the United States.

"With the global crisis, many banks saw their share prices drop dramatically, which was unthinkable in the past," Toledo said. "Although we are not in talks with any small local banks there, we could acquire a bank in the U.S. as part of our expansion plans."

The investments will be made by Banco do Brasil itself, after it receives authorization from the Federal Reserve Board, which is expected by the end of this year or the beginning of 2010, according to Toledo.

Currently, the bank has an agency in New York and another in Miami. It also has a representative office in Washington and a brokerage in New York.

It also announced the start of a program to facilitate remittances from the United States called BB Money Transfers Inc. using automated teller machines in small retail locations.

According to Toledo, there are 1.4 million Brazilians living in the United States. The bank is expecting annual revenue of $6 million from the remittances services.

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