JPMorgan makes Brazilian retail banking debut with 40% stake in C6 Bank

JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N) has taken a 40% stake in Brazilian digital bank C6 Bank, the companies said on Monday, making its retail debut in Latin America’s biggest economy.

JPMorgan in January announced plans to expand in retail banking through digital channels, starting in Britain. The U.S. bank has concentrated its activity in Brazil in corporate lending and investment banking.

“We’re pleased to partner with C6 and support their growth in Brazil, which has become one of the world’s fastest-growing digital banking markets,” Jamie Dimon, Chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase, said in a statement.

Founded in 2019 by former partners at Banco BTG Pactual SA , Latin America’s largest independent investment bank, C6 has 7 million clients, according to a statement.

The companies did not disclose the value of the deal or implied valuation of C6.The digital bank was valued at 11.3 billion reais ($2.28 billion) in December, when it raised 1.3 billion reais.

JPMorgan’s entrance into Brazilian retail banking follows high-profile departures by other global banks.

HSBC Holdings PLC (HSBA.L) and Citigroup (C.N) sold their retail operations in the country in 2015 and 2016, respectively, after struggling to compete with mammoths such as Banco Bradesco SA (BBDC4.SA) and Itau Unibanco Holding SA (ITUB4.SA).

Online banking has since allowed financial institutions to grow without costly branch networks, luring new players to Brazil such as SoftBank Group Corp’s (9984.T), which recently invested in fintech Banco Inter SA (BIDI3.SA).

Earlier this month, Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc (BRKa.N) invested $500 million in Brazilian digital bank Nubank at a valuation of $30 billion.

Both JPMorgan and C6 highlighted Brazilian regulatory reforms, which have fostered competition and allowed digital banks to gain market share.

Daniel Darahem, senior country officer in Brazil for JPMorgan, said the bank will appoint an undisclosed number of directors to the board of C6.

“Partnering with JPMorgan Chase, a global leader in financial services and a trusted name in retail banking, is a game changer,” said Marcelo Kalim, C6 CEO and co-founder.

C6 posted a net loss of 607 million reais in 2020, ending the year with 8 billion reais in assets. Kalim said the bank is likely to post a loss again this year, given the emphasis on growth, but is set to reach 10 million clients before year-end.

The bank will use the proceeds to launch two new credit lines: auto loans and home equity. The deal also involved the sale of a stake held by minority shareholders.

($1 = 4.9532 reais)