UPDATE 1-Buyout firm 3i hires di Lorenzo to head Brazil fund

* Di Lorenzo quits as Standard’s head of Brazil buyouts

* South Africa rules on industry lead to banker exit

* 3i to focus initially in Brazil, then expand regionally

* 3i to co-manage Standard’s Pao de Queijo investment
(Adds di Lorenzo comments, background on rules, appointment,
investment plans)

By Guillermo Parra-Bernal

SAO PAULO, April 11 (Reuters) – U.K.-based private equity
firm 3i Group Plc said on Monday it hired veteran banker
Marcelo di Lorenzo to head its Brazilian unit as it seeks to
find buyout opportunities in Brazil and elsewhere in Latin
America.

Di Lorenzo, previously the head of Brazil buyouts for South
Africa’s Standard Bank, also brought three bankers from his
former team to support 3i’s market entry into Latin America.

New central bank rules in South Africa that limit the
participation of Standard and rivals in private equity
investments sped up his departure, di Lorenzo said in a
telephone interview from London. He said the departure was
amicable.

Private equity firms and investment banks are expanding in
Latin America’s largest economy as mergers and acquisitions and
share sales might yield record profits this year. The boom in
local capital markets is prompting a wave of poaching as firms
look to increase staff.

“The focus is eyeing potential deals in Brazil and then
moving to other places in the region. Brazil is responsible for
about half Latin America’s gross domestic product, so it makes
strategic sense starting it all from Brazil,” di Lorenzo said.

He sees dealmaking potential in areas including consumer
goods and services, although he said that valuations in Brazil
at this point “are not cheap.”

“The good thing about 3i is that it is a disciplined
investor. We are in no rush to clinch deals at any cost,” said
di Lorenzo, who is also a former Merrill Lynch banker.

Di Lorenzo and his team, Edward Hanmer, Felipe Vivacqua and
Carlos Lopes, all former Standard Bank bankers and based in Sao
Paulo, will report to Bob Stefanowski, head of the Americas and
Asia for 3i.

A spokesman for Standard bank in Sao Paulo could not be
reached for comment.

His departure comes after Standard last year lost Eduardo
Centola, its chief executive for the Americas, to Swiss rival
UBS AG (UBSN.VX: Quote, Profile, Research).

About 46 percent of last year’s buyouts took place in
Brazil, where 76 percent of the region’s commitments for
private equity landed, according to industry group LAVCA. Latin
American investments represent about 20 percent of 3i’s core
revenue from the fund’s core portfolio.

3i will co-manage Standard Bank’s investment in restaurant
chain Casa do Pao de Queijo. The investment, announced late in
2009, was Standard Bank’s first in Brazil.
(Reporting by Guillermo Parra-Bernal, editing by Dave
Zimmerman)

UPDATE 1-Buyout firm 3i hires di Lorenzo to head Brazil fund