Andorran private bank Andbank is working to add Argentina to its Latin American roster and looking to expand in Mexico and Brazil as tax amnesty programs unlock wealth in the region.

The micro-state’s largest bank, with 25 billion euros ($30 billion) under management, is trying to obtain a license to operate as a global investment adviser in Argentina under the new rules approved last year by the country’s regulator, said Carlos Moreno, Andbank’s managing director and head of Americas.

“We should be operational in the first half of the year, one of the first banks to be using this new type of license,” he said in an interview at the Andbank’s office in Miami. Just to start, the plan is to have about five “local global advisers” to manage clients’ wealth from Argentina booked in other countries, Moreno said.

Andbank, which already named Gonzalo Tarasido to head up the effort in Argentina, is also considering partnerships with brokerages in the country.

Boosted Footprints

The firm, which has a presence in 12 countries, is joining banks such as Itau Unibanco Holding SA and UBS AG that are boosting their footprint in Latin America to compete for $200 billion of wealth unlocked by recent tax-amnesty programs in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico and Chile. Most of those assets are held outside of Latin America, in wealth-management centers like Miami.

To take advantage of the opportunity, Andbank late last year created a “Brazilian desk” in Miami, headed by Carlos Gribel, who also runs fixed income at Andbanc Brokerage in the city. Besides advising on financial investments, the group also helps clients with real-estate investments abroad, including in Miami and Portugal.

The local presence in Brazil, where Andbank has a full bank license and about 85 employees, will also grow. The lender plans to triple the business in one and half years, from 2 billion reais ($620 million) to 6 billion reais under management, serving clients with at least 1 million reais, Moreno said.

“We are investing in technology and have an aggressive plan to hire at least ten independent advisers to broaden our presence; we want to be not only in Sao Paulo, but also in Rio, Belo Horizonte, Curitiba and Porto Alegre,” he said.

Andbank is also considering acquisitions of local family offices in Brazil, said Leonardo Marques Hojaij, the company’s private-banking superintendent for the nation, in an interview in Sao Paulo.

Andbank wants to hire in Mexico too. Columbus de Mexico SA de CV, which Andbank bought about seven years ago, has $2 billion under management and about 100 employees and aims to add about 15 this year, according to Moreno.

Source: Bloomberg

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