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Argentina sets debt renegotiation deadline; Itaú Chile sells life insurance unit

* Argentina's government has set a March 31 deadline to renegotiate public debt with creditors including the International Monetary Fund, El Cronista reported. Economy Minister Martin Guzman said the administration is "working nonstop to resolve the external public debt crisis, the result of a failed irresponsible model that does not work in any country of the world and which left us hostage to the international financial markets," Reuters reported.

* Itaú Chile Inversiones Servicios y Administración SA has completed the sale of its life insurance business, Itaú Chile Compañía de Seguros de Vida SA, to a group of investors, La Tercera reported. The buyers include Inversiones y Servicios Financieros San Cristóbal II SA, Boris Buvinic, Contempora Inversiones and Asesorías e Inversiones El Alba.

MEXICO AND CENTRAL AMERICA

* Under a new deal with China Export & Credit Insurance Corp., Grupo Financiero Banorte SAB de CV will extend loans to Mexican companies and other entities that are looking to buy Chinese goods or services, Reuters reported. In return, SINOSURE will offer insurance and credit guarantees to Banorte to boost Chinese exports to Mexico. The value of the agreement was not disclosed by Banorte.

* Mexico's Banco Regional SA Institución de Banca Múltiple Banregio Grupo Financiero has revamped its Hey Banco digital banking platform to reach more clients and expand the range of services offered, El Economista reported. The bank hopes to add 5,000 new customers to the platform per month in the first quarter.

* Mexican consumer debt management company Resuelve tu Deuda, which raised 453 million pesos in its latest financing round, is looking to enter the markets of Brazil, Peru, Portugal and Italy, co-founder Juan Pablo Zorrilla said in an interview with El Economista. The company already operates in the foreign markets of Colombia, Argentina and Spain.

CARIBBEAN

* Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. said it acquired a 60% stake in Caribbean insurance broker Risk Management Services Ltd. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

BRAZIL

* The recently agreed insurance joint venture between Tokio Marine Seguradora SA and Caixa Seguridade Participações SA is credit positive for both companies, Moody's said. The contract is expected to boost Caixa's fee income origination, while Tokio Marine should benefit from rising insurance demand in Brazil, according to the rating agency.

* Itaú Unibanco Holding SA is setting up an energy trading desk and hopes to launch it by the end of the first half of 2020, subject to regulatory approvals, Valor Econômico reported.

* Itaú Unibanco Holding SA's card processor unit, Redecard SA, secured a court injunction that prevents rival StoneCo Ltd. from slandering competitors in a bid to win new customers, Estadão reported. The legal spat between the two rivals underscores the intense competition in Brazil's payment processing industry.

SOUTHERN CONE

* Argentina's central bank said it will stop signing reverse swap agreements with common investment funds on Feb. 3, a move aimed at lowering interest rates in the market, El Cronista reported.

* Average daily trade volume in Argentina's dollar futures market has dropped roughly 80% since August 2019, reflecting the impact of stringent currency controls, El Cronista reported, citing data from the MatbaRofex exchange.

* Argentine banks have started to lower financing rates for small and medium-sized enterprises following three recent reductions in the floor for the country's benchmark interest rate, El Cronista reported. Some banks are offering SMEs annual rates as low as 29%, the report said.

IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD

* Middle East & Africa: Lebanese central bank seeks more powers; Tunisian parliament rejects government

Helen Popper contributed to this article.

The Daily Dose has an editorial deadline of 8:00 a.m. São Paulo time, and scans news sources published in English, Portuguese and Spanish. Some external links may require a subscription. Links are current as of publication time, and we are not responsible if those links are unavailable later.