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Banco Santander Brasil SA (ADR) (NYSE:BSBR) has been identified as one of the best prospects for Citigroup to sells its Brazilian assets to. Unofficial reports have already started to surface that BSBR is eyeing the move, provided the right price. The assets are located in Brazil, Argentina and Colombia. Other contenders for these assets are local banks, which are looking to expand their business. Earlier in the last week, the CEO of Santander, Ana Botin, had written a letter to shareholders, identifying Brazil as one of the primary markets for the bank.

Citigroup had originally announced plans to sell its credit card and retail banking business in the aforementioned countries. However, the group would still hold its institutional and corporate client business in the regions. Analysts believe that the move is mainly due to the fact that Citigroup’s banking business never gained the right market share, to keep the business going. Given the current political and economic conditions in the region, particularly in Brazil, new players are likely to keep away from the region.

BSBR has already lost more than 46% of its share value, during the current year alone. This makes the decision a difficult one for Santander. Botin, however, had stated in her letter that investors are overestimating the threat posed by the conditions in Brazil, to company profits. She had also identified that the bank’s business model is a loosely tied one, which makes it easier to wind down during a recessive period. Unfortunately, there is a looming threat of antitrust issues being filed by the regulatory authority, similar to those faced by HSBC and Banco Bradesco. The later had acquired the Brazilian assets of the former, for $5.2 billion, but later faced antitrust scrutiny, after the regulator stated that the size of the transaction warrants a deeper look.

Banco Santander Brasil SA (ADR) (NYSE:BSBR) gained 1.18% during the February 19 session, after having a trade volume of 1.35 million, to close at $3.43.

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