* Banco de Bogotá SA posted net income attributable to shareholders of 950.5 billion Colombian pesos for the fourth quarter of 2018, up 132.0% from 409.7 billion pesos in the year-ago period. The increase was driven primarily "by the growth in interest income, fee income, and other income, particularly from the increase in the equity method income from associates and dividend income," the bank said.
* HSBC Holdings PLC is implementing a plan to rebuild its operations in Brazil roughly two and a half years after selling its local unit, Valor Econômico reported, citing Alexandre Guião, the company's CEO for Brazil. "We want to set up a complete wholesale bank" in Brazil, the executive said. The bank has appointed Rogério Guimarães head of commercial banking in the country and Fábio Caputo head of the treasury, among other appointments for Brazil.
MEXICO AND CENTRAL AMERICA
* Blackstone Group LP has raised $695 million in capital for two private equity funds in Mexico, Reuters reported. The money was raised from Mexican pension funds, known locally as afores.
* Costa Rica's state-owned banks are pushing congress to pass a bill that would allow the government to issue sovereign bonds in the international market, El Financiero reported. The banks said a lack of international financing could lead to higher domestic interest rates.
* S&P Global Ratings revised its outlook on nine Brazilian banks, pointing to a decline in the risk on their balance sheets. The rating agency expects Brazilian banks' nonperforming and renegotiated loans to gradually decline and lending growth to reach about 10% in the next two years.
* Moody's upgraded the long-term Brazilian local currency national scale deposit rating of Banco BMG SA to Baa2.br from Baa3.br, while revising the bank's ratings outlook to stable from negative. The upgrade reflects the steady improvement in Banco BMG's financial metrics as compared to similarly rated peers.
* Banco Topázio SA has gained clearance from Brazilian competition watchdog Cade to sell a 20% stake in the company to Edenred Holding Financeira, Valor Econômico reported. The sale is now awaiting final approval from Brazil's central bank.
* StoneCo Ltd. booked net income of 127.1 million reais for the fourth quarter of 2018, compared to a net loss of 14.3 million reais in the year-ago period. The company's total net revenue and income climbed 113.7% year over year, with financial income increasing 98.4%.
* Amendments to the regulation of Brazilian credit bureaus are credit positive for banks because they will anchor loan origination and risk pricing through increased visibility of customers' histories, Moody's said. The amendments, which are subject to presidential approval, will allow credit bureaus to automatically collect consumer and corporate credit histories.
* Brazil's Bovespa benchmark stock index crossed 100,000 points on March 18 for the first time ever amid rising optimism over the government's economic reform proposals, the Financial Times reported.
* Brazil's Febraban banking industry federation has developed a tool to help financial institutions identify climate change-linked risks in their loan portfolios, Valor Econômico reported. The tool takes into account factors such as the institution's profile, the sectors it finances, and lending volume and terms.
* Banco de Comercio Exterior de Colombia SA – BANCÓLDEX has joined Colombia's association of financial technology firms, becoming the first Colombian state-run entity to do so, La República reported.
* Venezuelan opposition chief Juan Guaido's representatives have seized control of three Venezuelan diplomatic buildings in the U.S., Reuters reported, citing Guaido's U.S. envoy Carlos Vecchio. They plan to take control of the Venezuelan embassy in Washington "in the days to come," Vecchio said.
* The International Monetary Fund should release another $10.87 billion in funding to Argentina in the wake of the multilateral agency's latest assessment of the country. The IMF said it expects its executive board to allow the additional funds to move forward.
* Fitch Ratings upgraded Banco Security SA's long-term national scale rating to AA(cl), citing improvement in the bank's intrinsic financial profile. The action prompted the upgrade of Grupo Security SA and Factoring Security SA's long-term national scale ratings to AA-(cl).
* Chile's economy grew 3.6% year over year in the fourth quarter of 2018, bringing GDP expansion for the year to 4.0%, according to central bank data. The 2018 growth is stronger than the 1.3% and 1.7% expansion registered in 2017 and 2016, respectively.
* Fitch Ratings upgraded Banco Consorcio's viability rating to "bbb" from "bbb-," saying that the bank's financial profile is supported by good profitability, solid capitalization, adequate credit risk management and improved liquidity.
* Chile's finance ministry is evaluating a proposal from the country's banking regulator to strengthen cybersecurity measures in the sector, Diario Financiero reported. Finance Minister Felipe Larraín said a bill will likely be presented to congress this year.
* Chile's FNE anti-trust regulator has approved an alliance between insurer Zurich and Banco Santander to create an insurance broker, saying the deal would not pose any risks to competition, Diario Financiero reported.
* Uruguayan lawmaker Enzo Malán has presented a reform bill that would halt the accumulation of interest on small loans in arrears beyond 24 months, El País reported. The proposal would halt the accumulation of interest even if the bank has filed a lawsuit to recoup the debt.
IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD
* Asia-Pacific: Macquarie Bank to shutter Seoul branch; State Bank of India to raise 200B rupees
* Middle East & Africa: Bank Hapoalim Q4'18 profit down YOY; Tadawul debuts on emerging market indexes
* Europe: Brexit vote blocked; France ups capital buffer for banks; Danske split rejected
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. Descriptions in this news article were not prepared by S&P Global Ratings.
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