Chase Capital Partners is opening its first Latin American office in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Chase Capital Partners has been using its parent's retail bank branches in Latin America to do business there. It has also done much of its work out of Chase Manhattan Corp.'s New York headquarters.

But increasing opportunities in the region have created the need for an office on the scene, according to Jeffrey Walker, Chase Capital's managing general partner. "We think there's a big demand for private equity in Brazil," Mr. Walker said. Far fewer funds compete in the private equity market there than in other countries where Chase Capital invests, he added.

The new office will solicit an array of Brazilian industries, including railroads, retail businesses, consumer financial services, and media.

Chase Capital has a large presence in Brazil. Last year it was involved in one of the first privatizations of a state-owned railroad, Ferroviaria Novoeste. It has participated in the market through strategic alliances with local venture capital groups, including Patrimonio, which focuses on turning around midsize companies.

Analysts said Chase Capital would benefit from a physical presence in the growing market. "There are plenty of good investment opportunities there, and Chase has a large market presence," said Raphael Soifer, a bank equity analyst at Brown Brothers, Harriman & Co. "It seems like a good way for Chase to capitalize on its local market knowledge."

Chase Capital has more than $300 million invested in Latin America, or about 8% of its $5 billion portfolio. Last year it put about 15% of its equity investments in the region.

Mr. Walker said he expects the Latin American portion of the portfolio to grow faster than other parts in 1998. He said he expects Chase Capital to invest about $200 million in the region this year.

Ana Carolina Aidar, a Brazilian private equity manager, has been named to head the Sao Paulo office. She is expected to hire a professional staff soon.

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