* Chile's government said the merger of the country's two financial industry regulators — financial market commission CMF and banking watchdog SBIF — will take place on June 1, Diario Financiero reported. The merger of the two entities is part of Chile's new general banking law.
* XP Investimentos partner Daniel Lemos is leaving the firm, according to Brazilian media reports. Lemos, who is COO and head of products, was expected to lead the company's new banking affiliate.
MEXICO AND CENTRAL AMERICA
* Premiums in Guatemala's insurance sector grew 2.98% in 2018, slowing from the 7.74% growth registered in the previous year, El Periodico reported, citing local industry association AGIS.
* Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador's plan to launch a program of interest-free loans for small businesses could harm microfinance company Gentera SAB de CV by targeting its key market, El Economista reported, citing analysts.
* S&P Global Ratings assigned national scale long- and short-term issuer credit ratings of mxAAA and mxA-1+, respectively, to Bank of China Mexico SA Institución de Banca Múltiple. The outlook is stable.
* Mexico generated $2 billion through the issuance of a 10-year bond, the Financial Times reported. The dollar-denominated bond carries a 4.577% yield and 4.5% coupon.
* S&P Global Ratings assigned brAAA/brA-1+ long- and short-term issuer credit ratings, as well as a brAAA national scale financial capacity rating, to Brazil's Sompo Seguros SA. The ratings reflect the company's efficient capitalization level and profitability metrics that are slightly below local peers, among other factors.
* Credit to individuals and companies in Brazil is expected to grow between 1.8% and 5.7% in real terms over the next 12 months, Valor Econômico reported, citing a survey of economists by the country's central bank.
* Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social will take action this week to improve transparency on information related to the bank's top 50 borrowers, a source told Reuters. The exact amount loaned to the borrowers will not be disclosed due to banking secrecy rules.
* Credicorp Capital Ltd. announced the launch of a new investment fund called Credicorp Capital Latin American Equity Fund, which will be available in Peru starting from February, SEMANAeconómica reported.
* Bancolombia SA said units Renting Colombia SAS and Inversiones CFNS SAS reached an agreement with Arval Relsa for the sale of 100% of Arrendamiento Operativo CIB SAC – Renting Peru, an operational leasing company. The purchase price for the shares will be determined and paid on the deal's closing, which is expected to take place in the first quarter.
* Argentina's central bank purchased $30 million in the foreign exchange market at an average price of 37.4740 Argentine pesos per U.S. dollar, Reuters reported.
* BTG Pactual Chile SpA issued a subordinated bond for 2.5 million UF, equivalent to around US$102 million, La Tercera reported. Demand for the 10-year bond reached 1.65x the amount offered.
* Banco de Chile President Pablo Granifo said the bank does not plan to terminate its contract with the Transbank SA interbank payment network, La Tercera reported. Banco Santander Chile earlier ended its contract with Transbank, a move that raised speculation on whether other lenders would do the same.
* Banco del Estado de Chile CEO Juan Cooper said the bank is considering options for capitalization to comply with tougher regulatory requirements included in Chile's new general banking law, Diario Financiero reported.
PAN LATIN AMERICA
* Insured losses from major natural catastrophes came in at approximately $71.5 billion in 2018, Willis Re estimated. No single major insured loss from natural disasters occurred in Latin America or the Caribbean, the company said.
IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD
* Asia-Pacific: India eases foreign borrowing norms; ASIC to clamp down on car loans
* Middle East & Africa: Samba FY'18 profit up 10%; Hapoalim joins SWIFT; Access Bank plots expansion
Helen Popper contributed to this article.
This S&P Global Market Intelligence news article may contain information about credit ratings issued by S&P Global Ratings, a separately managed division of S&P Global. Descriptions in this news article were not prepared by S&P Global Ratings.
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