JPMorgan aims to double headcount in Brazil: report

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - JPMorgan <JPM.N> plans to nearly double the number of its employees in Brazil to keep pace with an expanding financial market in Latin America's largest economy, the Financial Times said on Sunday.

The bank has grown six-fold in the past 14 months to 630 people and will add an additional 150 over the next year. It plans to reach 1,100-1,200 personnel in the next few years, the bank's chief executive in Brazil, Claudio Berquo, told the newspaper.

Berquo said the company will focus on five of the country's major cities, which will give it "a footprint that covers 80 percent of the gross domestic product of Brazil."

This does not take into account JPMorgan's acquisition of Rio de Janeiro-based hedge fund Gavea in 2010, which was founded by former local central banker Arminio Fraga.

Brazil's economy grew 7.5 percent in 2010, but slower growth is expected this year. Investment banking operations also showed stellar activity, setting records across the spectrum of business.

Data company Dealogic said the value of mergers and acquisitions in Brazil grew to $153 billion from $60 billion in 2009. Share offers nearly doubled to $49 billion and debt issuance grew to $48 billion from $30 billion the year before.

The 2011 playing field may not be as kind to investment banks. The government is tightening credit in a fight to contain inflation which looks on course to break out of the 6.5-percent per year upper limit of the central bank's target.

But banks from abroad expanding in Brazil still see the medium-term growth potential of the country offsetting the short-term challenges and risks.

(Reporting by Reese Ewing; Editing by Jackie Frank)