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Esteves moves closer to regaining BTG control; Mexico, Costa Rica cut rates

S&P Global Market Intelligence presents the week's latest news and trends in Latin American banking.

Borrowing costs on the decline

* Banco de México's board decided to lower its benchmark interest rate by 25 basis points to 7.25%, marking the central bank's fourth rate cut of 2019. One policymaker voted for a reduction of 50 basis points.

* Banco Central de Costa Rica reduced its monetary policy interest rate by 50 basis points to 2.75% after annual inflation slowed for the third consecutive month in November. The move follows a similar rate cut in October.

Capital markets see activity

* Banco Daycoval SA obtained a loan of about $425 million from IDB Invest and a group of other banks. It will use the loan, which has maturities of between two and four years, to grow its credit portfolio.

* Banco Centroamericano de Integración Económica doubled its credit line for Guatemalan bank Banco de Desarrollo Rural SA to $120 million.

* Banco Pine SA shareholders subscribed about 77.0 million Brazilian reais worth of shares in the preemptive rights period for the Brazilian bank's capital increase, representing about 76.90% of the maximum 100.1 million reais approved amount.

* Scotiabank Chile plans to increase its capital by about 250.00 billion Chilean pesos through the issuance of 735,294,118 new shares at 340 pesos each. Shareholders will vote on the proposal Jan. 6, 2020.

Probes and regulatory decisions

* Costa Rican police raided the offices of Banco BAC San José SA as part of an investigation into the allegedly fraudulent bankruptcy of a former corporate client. Investigators are trying to determine if the bank had an undue advantage compared to other creditors in the bankruptcy process of manufacturing company Corporación Yanber SA.

* Brazil's central bank has approved a request for André Esteves to rejoin Banco BTG Pactual SA's controlling group, although the move is still subject to approval from foreign regulators. Esteves, the bank's founder and former CEO who is looking to rejoin the group with a 61.55% stake, was cleared of corruption charges by a federal judge in July 2018.

* Guatemala's central bank suspended the operations of Financiera de Occidente SA, which represents 0.35% of assets in the local banking sector. Some management practices at the company put its solvency at risk and the bank failed to comply with a recovery plan.

In other news

* Argentina's new government is reportedly considering revamping state-owned Banco de Inversión y Comercio Exterior SA into a development bank focused primarily on soft loans for small and medium-sized enterprises.

* Brazil's Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social expects its annual recurring net profit to reach between 6.6 billion reais and 8.6 billion reais by 2022, up from 5.5 billion reais in 2018. The company will continue to divest its investment portfolio and shrink its loan book as part of its 2020-2022 strategic plan.

* Colombian credit financial technology firm Finsocial SAS is looking for approval to operate as a bank or regulated financing company in 2020, CEO Santiago Botero said.

* Brazil's Banco BV, formerly known as Banco Votorantim, acquired online personal loan platform Just, which will help the bank tailor digital credit products to clients' needs.

Featured this week on Market Intelligence

* Three months in, Mexico's fintech law draws mixed feelings: Mexico's financial technology law has drawn mixed feelings from industry executives, with some saying that the resulting legislation makes entry harder for new players.

* Hires and Fires: A weekly rundown of executive management, board and other personnel moves at Latin American financial institutions.

* Ratings Roundup: A summary of various ratings actions on Latin American financial institutions and economies.