(Recasts; adds details on Argentina operations, comments, background throughout)
By Guillermo Parra-Bernal
SAO PAULO, Aug 23 (Reuters) - Grupo BTG Pactual SA’s broker-dealer in Argentina will start operations within the next two weeks, as Latin America’s largest independent investment bank seeks to boost exposure to potential capital markets expansion in the country.
According to Rodrigo Goes, BTG Pactual’s head of sales and trading, the opening of a broker-dealer in South America’s No. 2 economy took place after a series of reforms undertaken by Argentina’s business-friendly President Mauricio Macri.
The 20-employee office, which originally traded the bank’s proprietary capital in “an opportunistic basis,” should undergo rapid growth as BTG Pactual trades more equities, fixed-income securities and other financial assets, Goes said.
Regulatory authorities issued an operating license for BTG Pactual’s broker-dealer earlier in the day. São Paulo-based BTG Pactual is among international banks expanding trading and asset management businesses in Argentina, which under Macri lifted capital controls and carried out a $120 billion tax amnesty.
Following more than a decade of market-hostile policies, Macri also resolved a 15-year dispute with bond holdouts and ended export restrictions to lure more foreign currency into the country. The government and companies have raised over $30 billion in foreign debt over the past year, he said.
“We have the conviction that Argentina is going in the right direction,” Goes, who also is BTG Pactual’s chief executive officer for Latin America, told Reuters in an interview.
The move also underscores BTG Pactual’s efforts to grow core business areas almost two years after founder André Esteves’s involvement in a corruption probe led to a drastic downsizing. Chief Executive Officer Roberto Sallouti wants to grow trading, money management and investment banking across the region.
BTG Pactual’s Argentina operations, led by Marcelo Fiorellini, this year hired experienced traders Emilio Ilac and Brian Joseph to co-lead fixed-income sales from Buenos Aires.
“We have a top-notch team that is ready to begin allocating more of our clients’ money into Argentine assets,” Fiorellini said in the interview. (Reporting by Guillermo Parra-Bernal; editing by Diane Craft)