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Itau in exclusive talks for Citi's Brazil unit -report

SAO PAULO, Sept 21 Brazilian lender Itau Unibanco Holding SA has secured exclusive rights to negotiate an acquisition of Citigroup Inc's retail banking operation in Brazil, according to a newspaper report on Wednesday.

Brazilian paper Valor Economico cited two unnamed sources familiar with the negotiations saying Itau, Brazil's biggest private-sector bank, had outbid Spanish rival Banco Santander SA in initial offers presented to Citigroup.

A Citigroup representative in Brazil declined to comment on the report. Representatives for Itau and Santander did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Citigroup said in June that talks with bidders for the Brazilian retail banking unit could last up to three months as the U.S. bank trims underperforming banking operations globally to cut costs amid increasing competition.

Valor also reported on Wednesday that Santander had secured exclusive rights to negotiate the purchase of Citigroup's Argentine retail banking unit, while Canada's Bank of Nova Scotia was in talks for the U.S. bank's Colombian unit.

Scotiabank representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment. (Reporting by Brad Haynes and Bruno Federowski; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

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