UBS rebuilds in Brazil with acquisition of Consenso

The acquisition by UBS of a majority stake in Consenso, Brazil’s largest multi-family office, is a significant step in the Swiss bank’s growth strategy in the country.

Since 2010, UBS has been plotting its return in Brazil, following its sale of Pactual in 2009, and this transaction is the most notable since its acquisition of leading local brokerage Link – which was finalized in 2013 after UBS obtained a banking licence in 2012.

Consenso has R$20 billion in assets under management (AUM) – considerably more than UBS’s R$8 billion.

The new wealth management operation will merge and be run by a combination of UBS management and Consenso founding partners, including Heinz Gruber, Luiz Borges, Maria Alice Gouvêa, Daniel Auerbach and Valéria Milani Pierini – who created the firm after leading Banco BBA Creditanstalt when that bank was bought by Itaú in 2002.

Consenso has offices in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Curitiba and Belo Horizonte, and 60 employees. UBS says it has around 250 staff in Brazil. Deal pricing isn’t be revealed.

Alejandro Velez, UBS Alejandro Velez, head of Latin America wealth management at UBS, tells Euromoney that the deal will ” accelerate our expansion in Brazil”.

That expansion appears well timed: according to local banking organization Anbima, AUM of the wealth management industry increased by nearly 20% in the year to February 2017 to R$863 billion.

“We continue to believe in Brazil’s long-term prospects, as evidenced by this acquisition,” says Velez. “Brazil [is] a market that continues to be strategically important for us. Consenso has a strong track record with strong historic growth. It provides access to a large number of families in the high-net worth and upper-high net worth space.

“By combining Consenso local expertise and reputation with UBS’s standing and strengths, and maintaining the successful open platform strategy currently run by both firms in Brazil, we believe we can significantly enhance our value proposition and widen our appeal to a larger number of private clients in the country.”

Velez says UBS “continuously reviews” opportunities for further acquisitions and in 2013 Edinardo Figueiredo, then managing director of UBS, outlined to Euromoney UBS’s strategy for growing its wealth management business in Brazil. “We want to grow through acquisition,” he said. “We are in talks with a lot of family offices in order to aggregate them in our operations, possibly to do acquisitions, but there are also some asset managers in the country that are open to work together.

“But the main idea is to grow through acquisition.”

Despite the current political uncertainty, Velez says he is positive about Brazil’s longer-term outlook. “In the current climate, we think Brazil’s reform process will be delayed but not derailed,” he says and adds that the current easing cycle in Brazil – with the Brazilian central bank lowering the base rate to 10.25% from 11.25% at the previous meeting, is the key market issue for determining asset allocation strategies for clients.

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