FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (06/13/2000) - America Online Inc.'s Latin America joint venture announced Tuesday that it will partner with Banco Itau SA, one of Brazil's largest banks, a move that both parties say will help them attract new customers.
The alliance calls for AOL Latin America Inc.'s Brazil subsidiary to create a version of its online service for Banco Itau's 7 million customers. This custom version of AOL Brazil's online service will feature the bank's Internet products and services in its Finance Channel as well as all the other services and content found in AOL Brazil's regular online service, the companies said.
As part of the deal, Banco Itau will become a minority shareholder in AOL Latin America when the company, a joint venture between AOL and Venezuela's media conglomerate, the Cisneros Group of Companies, launches its initial public offering. The company has stated in the past that it plans to go public this year.
Banco Itau customers will receive a "limited amount" of free hours every month to use the AOL service customized for the bank, the companies said. About 1.1 million Banco Itau customers now use the company's online home banking service, according to the companies.
Brazil is the region's largest Internet market, both in terms of e-commerce revenue and users. Last year, Brazil had 5.8 million of the region's 10.6 million Internet users and generated US$121 million of the region's $194 million in e-commerce revenue, according to market researcher Jupiter Communications Inc.
AOL Latin America was founded in Dec. 1998 and launched a portal and an online service in Brazil last year.
Banco Itau is Brazil's second-largest private bank, with $7.39 billion in revenue, $728 million in net income and almost 42,000 employees in 1998, according to financial researcher Hoover's Inc. The bank, which also has operations in the U.S., Portugal, Germany and Argentina, has about 2,500 branches, the companies said.
AOL Latin America's Brazilian subsidiary can be reached at http://www.americaonline.com.br/. Banco Itau is at http://www.itau.com.br/.