Pedro Moreira Salles: 10 Facts You Didn’t Know

In the banking world, the name ‘Pedro Moreira Salles’ is synonymous with influence and success. As the current Chairman of Itaú Unibanco, the largest private bank in Brazil, this dynamic figure has crafted an impressive legacy. But how well do you know Pedro Moreira Salles? To deepen your understanding of this notable businessman, we’ve compiled a list of ten facts you may not know.

1. His Family’s Rich History

Pedro Moreira Salles isn’t just a self-made man; he also came from a family of influential figures. His father, Walther Moreira Salles, was a founder of Unibanco – one of the major banks in Brazil before merging with Banco Itaú. Not only was his father a prominent banker, but also a dedicated civil servant, having served as Brazil’s Ambassador to the United States and Minister of Finance.

His family history doesn’t stop there. His brother, Fernando Roberto Moreira Salles, is another noteworthy character in Brazil’s banking world. Furthermore, his family’s deep commitment to culture is apparent through the founding of the Moreira Salles Institute, a non-profit institution promoting Brazilian culture and arts.

2. Educational Background and Early Career

Moreira Salles is a well-educated man. He attended the University of California, earning a degree in History. Following this, he attended Princeton University’s renowned Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, where he received a Masters in public affairs. This focus on public and international affairs would come to serve Moreira Salles well as he entered into the world of global banking and finance.

After affirming his educational foundation, Pedro Moreira Salles returned to Brazil and entered into the family banking business at Unibanco. There, he embarked on his banking career, assuming various key roles until he reached the pinnacle as the bank’s president – a position he held for over a decade.

3. Leading Brazil’s Largest Banking Merger

One of the defining moments of Moreira Salles’ career was his role in the merger of Unibanco with Banco Itaú in 2008. At the helm of Unibanco, Pedro Moreira Salles played a vital role in uniting two of Brazil’s banking powerhouses to form Itaú Unibanco. This merger was not only significant for the institutions involved, but also for the Brazilian economy as a whole.

Despite initial skepticism and fears of a monopoly, the merger ensured a more robust and secure financial sector in Brazil. Today, the success of Itaú Unibanco is a testament to his leadership and strategic vision. As the chairman of the bank, Moreira Salles continues to play a crucial role in its ongoing success.

4. Significant Investments Beyond Banking

While his accomplishments in the banking world are undeniably impressive, Pedro Moreira Salles has also made significant investments in other sectors. One such investment is in the mining company, Companhia Brasileira de Metalurgia e Mineração (CBMM). CBMM is the world’s leading provider of niobium products, a mineral essential for the production of high-grade steel.

Moreira Salles, together with his brothers, holds 15% of the company’s shares. Not only has this investment significantly boosted the family’s wealth, but it also underlines his strategic business acumen and ability to identify lucrative opportunities outside the banking sector.

5. Philanthropic Initiatives

Like his father, Pedro Moreira Salles is known for his philanthropic initiatives. He is part of the management board of the Instituto Moreira Salles (IMS), a non-profit organization promoting Brazilian culture and arts. His involvement in IMS underscores his commitment to supporting arts, culture, and education.

Moreover, as the Chairman of Itaú Unibanco, he has propelled the institution’s social responsibility arm, with investment in programs designed to foster socio-economic development in Brazil. With an emphasis on financial education, social mobility, and urban mobility, his philanthropy continues to make a significant societal impact.

6. He’s a Fervent Football Fan

Football is a national passion in Brazil and Pedro Moreira Salles is no exception. A longtime fan of São Paulo Futebol Clube, one of Brazil’s most successful football clubs, he’s been passionate about football from a young age.

More than just watching games, Moreira Salles feels a strong connection with the team. He was previously the vice president of São Paulo Futebol Clube, using his business acumen to support the club during his tenure.

7. Avid Reader and Published Author

In addition to his banking career, Moreira Salles is an avid reader and has made important contributions to literature. He is intensely interested in history, particularly Brazilian history, which he often delves into in his free time.

His love for history was also translated into his work as he co-authoured “Conversations with Economists,” a book that has become a reference in the field of economics. It showcases renowned American and British economists discussing the transformations in the world’s economies during the 20th century.

8. His Ancestral Home Is Now an Art Institute

The family home of Moreira Salles in Gávea, Rio de Janeiro, has a striking history. Built in the 1950s by his father, the home is an impressive modernist property located on a beautiful garden. However, it’s now home to the Moreira Salles Institute (IMS), a non-profit institution promoting Brazilian culture.

The house is a true reflection of the family’s love for culture. It serves as a cultural center, attracting many visitors each year. With its extensive collection of Brazilian photographs, music, literature, and iconography, this home turned institute is a dear project of the Moreira Salles family.

9. Aiming to Improve Brazilian Education

In an effort to bolster the education system in Brazil, Moreira Salles is a part of a group of businessmen who formed “Todos pela Educação” (All for Education). The initiative aims to improve basic education in Brazil, closely monitoring the country’s educational indicators and advocating for improved policies.

Its participants are committed in their pursuit to ensure education’s quality and inclusiveness. The involvement and dedication of Moreira Salles in this project reflect his commitment to social responsibility and the development of Brazil.

10. He’s Ranked Among The World’s Billionaires

The success of Pedro Moreira Salles is not just recognized in Brazil, but globally. According to Forbes, he was listed among the world’s billionaires in 2021. This comes as no surprise, given his affluent family history and lucrative investments in industries beyond banking.

But what’s significant about Moreira Salles is not just his wealth. It’s his contribution to the banking industry, his investments, his commitment to cultural and educational initiatives, and his ability to blend business acumen with a broader sense of social responsibility that truly sets him apart.

You can find more about Pedro Moreira Salles, his career, and his life’s work using the following links:

Forbes – Profile of Pedro Moreira Salles
Itaú Unibanco – Meet the Board of Directors
Moreira Salles Institute
Todos Pela Educação