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SAO PAULO (Reuters) - The investment holding companies overseeing the fortune of Brazil's most prominent banking dynasties have teamed up to explore the purchase of a majority stake in footwear and apparel maker Alpargatas SA, whose controlling shareholder is working on a sale.
Cambuhy Investimentos Ltda, a family office overseeing the fortune of Brazil's billionaire Moreira Salles family, and Itaúsa Investimentos SA (ITSA4.SA) may split equally the 86 percent stake that another billionaire family, the Batistas, own in Alpargatas, according to separate securities filings on Monday.
Itaúsa is the investment holding family that oversees the assets of the three families that control Itaú Unibanco Holding SA, Brazil's No. 1 bank. The Moreira Salles are also major investors in Itaú (ITUB4.SA).
Both Cambuhy - which is leading talks with the Batista family's J&F Investimentos SA - and Itaúsa have yet to deliver a formal proposal for the Batista family's stake in Alpargatas - the maker of the popular Havaianas flip flops, the filings said.
The signature of a nondisclosure agreement between J&F and the Cambuhy-Itaúsa group suggests that the pace of talks for control of Alpargatas has gained steam in recent days. J&F is stepping up asset divestitures to raise cash and pay for a 10.3 billion real ($3.1 billion) leniency fine with Brazilian prosecutors.
J&F's leniency fine, the world's biggest to date, was imposed after members of Brazil's Batista family admitted to bribing almost 2,000 politicians. Reuters first reported Cambuhy's interest in Alpargatas on June 16.
Preferred shares of São Paulo-based Alpargatas, which manages a wide array of Brazilian fashion brands including upmarket beachwear brand Osklen, hit their highest level in almost three months on Monday, adding 3.9 percent. Itaúsa's preferred shares gained 2.7 percent to 8.90 reais.
Brothers Joesley and Wesley Batista, who negotiated the leniency deal, are conducting talks to sell Alpargatas themselves, people with knowledge of the talks told Reuters on Monday.
Additional reporting by Bruno Federowski in São Paulo; Editing by Cynthia Osterman