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Report: HSBC regains appetite for investment banking business in Brazil

HSBC Holdings PLC is looking to re-establish itself in the Brazilian market and lure back corporate clients it lost when it sold the bulk of its business in the country a few years ago, the Financial Times reported, citing two people familiar with the plan.

The London-based banking giant agreed to sell its Brazilian units to local lender Banco Bradesco SA in 2015. The deal worth roughly 17.28 billion reais was completed in 2016.

As part of the transaction, HSBC signed a noncompete agreement with Bradesco that is due to expire soon. HSBC executives are now debating about boosting the company's São Paulo-based investment banking operations with plans to increase headcount to 200 or more employees from the approximately 80 staff it retained following the Bradesco deal, the FT's sources said.

However, according to the report, HSBC does not intend to resume consumer banking activity in Brazil. HSBC declined requests for comment from both the FT and Bloomberg News, which also reported on the bank's plans in Brazil.

HSBC's reported return to Brazil comes as CEO John Flint prepares to put the bank back into "growth mode" after an extended period of retrenchment in Latin America that saw the company sell its businesses in Colombia, Paraguay and Peru.

At the same time, however, HSBC executives are also discussing a possible exit from subscale retail operations in Latin America such as Uruguay and Chile, sources familiar with the bank's plans told the FT.

The reported return to Brazil also follows the victory of Jair Bolsonaro, a right-wing politician from Brazil's Social Liberal Party who campaigned for market-friendly reforms, in the October presidential elections.

As of Nov. 9, US$1 was equivalent to 3.76 Brazilian reais.