Mayor Reed’s trade missions fueled Brazilian firm’s decision to open an HQ in Atlanta

By David Pendered

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed’s work during two trade missions, one to Brazil and one to Mexico, helped convince Brazil’s largest credit card processor to select Atlanta for the corporate headquarters of a financial services division.


Brazil’s largest credit card company, Cielo, selected Atlanta for the headquarters of its division, Merchant e-Solutions. Credit:

Brazilian financial services company Cielo announced its division, Merchant e-Solutions, will open in Buckhead. Merchant e-Solutions is to invest $5 million to establish its office and create more than 140 jobs, according to a statement from Reed’s administration.

Cielo is the world’s fifth largest card payments processing company, according to a report posted by, a business intelligence company that specializes in Latin America.

The report states: “With some 1.2 million active establishments, [Cielo] provides service to 99 percent of Brazil. Founded in 1995 and based in Barueri, São Paulo, Cielo is jointly controlled by local groups Banco do Brasil and Bradesco with a 28.65 percent stake each.”

Cielo’s route to Atlanta includes conversations with Reed in Brazil in 2014 and Mexico in 2015. Gov. Nathan Deal continued the talks during his trade mission to Brazil in 2015.

Kasim Reed, Atlanta mayor

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed

Reed led a fairly large trade mission to Brazil from April 5 to April 12, 2014. More than 20 Atlanta-based companies sent representatives and were joined by officials from Georgia Tech and Georgia State. Invest Atlanta’s CEO attended, as did the presidents of the Metro Atlanta Chamber and the Brazilian American Chamber of Commerce.

The trade mission visited the Brazilian cities of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janerio. Sao Paulo is the corporate headquarters of Cielo.

Subsequently, Reed met with a Cielo corporate executive at the World Economic Forum on Latin America. The forum convened in Mexico May 6-8, 2015. Reed attended the event and boarded a red-eye flight to Atlanta in order to lead, with Deal, the grand opening ceremony on May 7, 2014 of the Porche corporate American headquarters near Atlanta’s airport.

Deal led a fairly large trade mission to Brazil that departed June 13, 2015. The itinerary was headlined by visits in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janerio.

Both the govenor’s and mayor’s offices released statements announcing Cielo’s decision to open its division offices in Atlanta.

Brazil's principal ports

Brazil is a leading trade partner of Georgia. Brazil is served by seaports scattered along the coast, providing access mainly to trade with the United States and European countries. File/Credits: “Brazilian Ports: A Safe Haven for International Investment”,

“We welcome Merchants e-Solutions to ‘Transaction Alley,’ in the City of Atlanta,” Reed said in a statement released Jan. 20. “With this relocation, Atlanta is further growing our FinTech sector and solidifying our status as a national and international hub for transaction processing. Atlanta is a fantastic place for technology companies and entrepreneurs to bring and build their dreams.”

Incidentally, “FinTech” is a combination of the words financial and technology. The word FinTech reflects the growth of the financial services industry from the back office of financial institutions to cover services such as mobile banking and digital wallets.

Deal’s statement reads: “I had the pleasure of meeting with their leadership on an economic development mission to Brazil. As a result, we can now celebrate the relocation of their headquarters from the Silicon Valley to Georgia. This announcement is further affirmation that our highly-skilled workforce, well-connected logistics infrastructure and culture of collaboration will continue to draw top-tier prospects like Merchant e-Solutions.”

Merchant e-Solutions CEO Tom Bell’s statement reads: “We are excited to make Georgia our home. The Atlanta market brings us closer to key business partners and allows us to tap into the amazing talent of this rich financial technology epicenter as we establish and expand our local presence.”

Bell is not related to another Tom Bell, who formerly served as chairman/CEO of Cousins Properties.


David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow. David was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina and is married to a fifth-generation Atlantan.

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