HSBC Bank Argentina SA's priority in 2017 is to expand its leasing portfolio in the country's rapidly changing financial environment, Patricia Bindi, the bank's commercial banking head, told El Cronista.
Bindi said HSBC recorded 970 million Argentine pesos in its leasing portfolio at the end of 2016, and the goal is to double it by the end of 2017 in order to regain the foothold the bank had in Argentina a decade ago as one of the three biggest players in the market. She said HSBC's focus is on small and medium-sized enterprises and the bigger companies.
"We are moving away from the transactional banking of the last 12 years to position the bank where it should be, lending money to companies," Bindi reportedly said, referring to the high-interest-rate levels and inflation in Argentina during the last decade.
But the executive thinks the banking sector will see a rise in investment opportunities when interest rates start falling. "There is a huge interest for possibilities in Argentina. I think there were many things that Argentina was unable to do in recent years because of high interest rates and lack of investment."
"Leasing is a much more accessible tool than a traditional loan. Many companies, for example, need to buy some type of machinery that is not manufactured in this country. So we go and take care of going abroad and importing the machine, paying the trucks, the insurance, finding the best shippers and delivering the product. This is great for SMEs because they don't necessarily have the infrastructure to manage these things," Bindi said.
She added that HSBC Argentina's asset portfolio increased between 30% and 35% in the first quarter of 2017 from the year-ago period, a rise she identified as a clear sign of a better investment landscape. "The Argentine business owner is eager to invest and is asking many questions," Bindi said.
As of March 24, US$1 was equivalent to 15.60 Argentine pesos.