* Banco Santander Chile posted fourth-quarter 2016 net income attributable to shareholders of about 108.63 billion Chilean pesos, up 29.7% compared to the year-ago period. The bank's full-year 2016 net income totaled 472.35 billion pesos.
* María Mercedes Gómez will retire as the CEO of Colombia's Banco de las Microfinanzas - Bancamía SA on April 1 after having led the bank for eight years, La República reported.
MEXICO AND CENTRAL AMERICA
* Asset managers operating in Mexico are pushing for changes to the country's corporate governance practices to improve investor confidence, the Financial Times reported. The asset managers want listed firms to provide at least a month's notice for shareholder meetings, up from the current two-week notice period, among other changes.
* Agustin Carstens, the head of Mexico's central bank, said the Mexican peso should appreciate if talks between Mexico and the U.S. "provide for more clarity and certainty," Reuters reported, citing an interview he gave to a German newspaper. "From our point of view the peso is clearly undervalued against the dollar," he said. "The markets have overreacted."
* Mexican Finance Minister Jose Antonio Meade said his government will work to preserve the free flow of remittances, Reuters reported. U.S. President Donald Trump's team has said that restricting remittances to Mexico is one way to force the country to pay for his proposed border wall.
* Costa Rica's insurance industry saw income from premiums rise 16% in 2016 from the previous year, El Financiero reported, citing regulatory data. In 2015, the sector's premium income declined 9.4% annually.
* Bank lending in Mexico is expected to decelerate in 2017 amid an economic slowdown and rising inflation, El Economista reported, citing Gabriel Casillas, chief economist at Grupo Financiero Banorte SAB de CV. Banorte's own loan portfolio grew 14% annually in 2016.
* Brazil's national monetary council approved a resolution that divides the country's financial system into five groups for prudential regulation application purposes. The ruling divides institutions according to their size, international activity and risk profile. "The measure makes regulation more compatible with the size and risk profile of each financial institution … with greater efficiency and lower compliance costs," Brazil's central bank said.
* Consumer credit demand in Brazil sank 10.5% in 2016 to reach the lowest level since 2010, according to credit research firm Boa Vista SCPC. High interest rates, negative real incomes and high unemployment, among other factors, triggered greater caution and aversion to household consumption, the firm noted.
* Brazilian credit and debit card operator Cielo SA reported net income attributed to the company's owners of about 1.01 billion reais for the fourth quarter of 2016, up 18.6% from 852.7 million reais in the year-ago period. Financial income increased 30.3% year over year to 387.6 million reais.
* Bankruptcy filings from large Brazilian firms are expected to reach a new high in 2017 as the country continues to deal with tight credit conditions and a severe recession, Reuters reported, citing bankers and lawyers.
* The Brazilian central government posted a primary budget deficit of about 154.26 billion reais in 2016, a result that Finance Minister Henrique Meirelles said was better than expected, Reuters reported.
* Online banks offering mobile services in Brazil are becoming more popular than traditional lenders in the country due to their relatively lower costs and efficient customer service, Valor Econômico reported, citing a study by CVA Solutions.
* Ilan Goldfajn, the governor of Brazil's central bank, said there is room for the bank to reduce borrowing costs further as inflation continues to fall, Pulso reported. In an interview, Goldfajn said Brazil's economy is showing signs of recovery and there is no risk of another year of recession. Separately, the central bank launched a public consultation on the issuance of guaranteed real estate letters, or LIGs, predicting that the notes could reach the market by the end of the first half, Reuters reported.
* Financiera Confianza SA said its board approved an offering of one-year negotiable deposits certificates worth 20 million Peruvian soles, expandable to 25 million soles.
* Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos will appoint two new board members at the country's central bank in the coming weeks, Reuters reported. Earlier in January, the central bank left its benchmark interest rate unchanged at 7.5% in a close vote.
* Banco de Crédito del Perú has joined the international R3 blockchain consortium as the bank looks to innovate through technology, El Comercio reported. The company is reportedly the first Latin American bank outside of Brazil to join the consortium, which has more than 70 members.
* Banco de Chile reported full-year 2016 net income attributable to the bank owners of 552.25 billion Chilean pesos, down about 1.2% from 559.00 billion pesos for full-year 2015. The bank's fourth-quarter 2016 net income totaled 124.03 billion pesos, down 11.5% year over year.
* HSBC Bank (Chile)'s deputy general manager, Rodrigo Rossi Meersohn, left in order to take a new position at HSBC Bank Argentina SA. Andre Komander, HSBC Chile's CFO, will replace Meersohn as deputy general manager.
* Itaú CorpBanca said it transferred all of its shares in SMU Corp. SA, representing 51% of the company's total shares, to Inversiones Monserrat SA. SMU is no longer a unit of Itaú CorpBanca, the bank said.
* The Inter-American Development Bank plans to issue between $150 million and $200 million worth of bonds in Paraguay in April, La Nación reported, citing Eduardo Almeida, the bank's representative in the country. Proceeds from the issuance will be used to finance long-term projects in the country.
* The Paraguayan banking sector's nonperforming loan ratio reached 2.80% at the end of December 2016, falling by 42 basis points from the previous month but increasing by 33 basis points from a year earlier, 5días reported, citing central bank data. The sector's overall loan portfolio stood at about $12.26 billion at the end of last year, the publication reported separately.
Helen Popper contributed to this article.
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