BankBoston Corp. has a long-time attachment to international banking. But under the leadership of Henrique de Campos Meirelles, 52, the bank's Brazilian-born president, the ties are getting even stronger.
BankBoston, which generates about a fifth of its revenues from Latin America, intends to pump about $100 million into the region over the next year to expand branch networks mostly in Brazil and Argentina. The goal: to generate as much as a third of the company's revenues from Latin America by 2001.
"Why Latin America?" asks Mr. Meirelles. "Because we have access to a growing economy, a growing money supply, and a growing market share."
He's also overseeing the bank's more modest forays in Asia, mainly in the areas of trade finance and private banking.
The banking world was taken aback last year when Mr. Meirelles, then BankBoston's Brazilian country manager, was tapped to be the second-ranking executive at the $68.2 billion company.
But the move underscored just how actively U.S. banks are going global. Dozens of banks ranging from Wachovia Corp. to Citicorp have expanded their office networks around the globe in a quest for diversification and higher returns.
Mr. Meirelles clearly has the stomach for international banking. Even if emerging markets in Asia remain volatile, he said, "they are growing and provide us with the right diversification."