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Zurich Brasil merges insurance segments; S&P affirms Colombia


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Zurich Brasil merges insurance segments; S&P affirms Colombia

* Zurich Brasil Seguros SA said it has combined its corporate and commercial insurance segments into its new middle market business in order to improve efficiency for both its partners and customers. Glaucia Asvolinsque Smithson, who has served as the company's head of corporate insurance for casualty, life and pensions, was tapped to be the middle market head.

* S&P Global Ratings affirmed Colombia's long-term foreign and local currency sovereign credit ratings at BBB and BBB+, respectively, with a negative outlook. The affirmations and negative outlook balance countervailing trends as on the one hand, a tax package recently passed by Congress should bolster the government's tax base and facilitate a decline in the fiscal deficit. On the other hand, S&P has observed a worsening of the government's interest burden and of the country's external balance sheet.


* Citigroup Inc. CFO John Gerspach said the company has no plans to sell Mexican unit Banco Nacional de México SA Integrante del Grupo Financiero Banamex, and Donald Trump's victory in the U.S. elections has not altered the company's strategy in Mexico, El Economista reported.


* The Dominican Republic set initial price thoughts in the low 6% area for a new 10-year bond offering denominated in U.S. dollars, IFR reported, citing "two market sources."


* Banestes SA - Banco do Estado do Espírito Santo said its recently appointed CEO, Michel Neves Sarkis, has also been selected to serve on the bank's board. Sarkis will replace outgoing CEO Guilherme Gomes Dias, who will step down from both his executive and board positions on Jan. 31.

* Aon Plc said it closed its acquisition of Brazil-based health and benefits brokerage Admix, which boasts more than 1.4 million beneficiaries across about 6,700 companies. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

* French insurer AXA is in talks to possibly acquire a health insurer in Brazil, O Estado de S. Paulo reported. Three Brazilian companies are under consideration, though negotiations are more advanced with one of them, the report claimed without naming any of the potential targets.

* Brazil is not worried about the impact of a strong U.S. dollar as expectations for an economic revival and increased commodity prices have helped shore up the Brazilian real, Reuters reported, citing Finance Minister Henrique Meirelles and central bank governor Ilan Goldfajn. The real has strengthened around 1% so far in 2017.

* HSBC Holdings Plc Chairman Douglas Flint said the sale of the bank's Brazilian unit to Banco Bradesco SA in 2016 resulted in an accounting loss, but was still the correct decision since the unit lacked scale and was unable to compete with bigger rivals, Valor Econômico reported.

* Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social's board and executives are at odds over how best to rectify an actuarial deficit in the bank's employee pension fund, Fapes, O Estado de S. Paulo reported. The bank was earlier reported to be looking for a specialized consultant to evaluate the Fapes' actuarial position.


* Peruvian bank loans totaled about 235.37 billion Peruvian soles as of December 2016, up 4.43% from a year earlier when adjusted for a constant exchange rate, according to data from banking association Asbanc. The main reason for the growth, which was up from a 3.62% growth rate in November 2016, was higher corporate lending amid improved expectations for Peru's economic growth in 2017.

* Colombia launched a two-part $2.5 billion bond offering and accumulated $9 billion in orders for the debt, IFR reported, citing a lead on the deal. The country plans to use the proceeds for general budgetary purposes.

* Banco De Desarrollo De América Latina issued a five-year benchmark bond worth €750 million with a 0.50% coupon. One-third of the orders came from central banks and official institutions in several countries, while the rest were originated by asset managers, insurers, banks and pension funds.

* Colombian Senator Jorge Robledo denounced the board of Banco Agrario de Colombia SA for approving a 120 billion Colombian pesos loan to Brazilian engineering firm Odebrecht in 2015 at a time when Odebrecht was already in financial difficulty, El Economista reported.

* Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria Colombia SA will disburse in the coming days a 320 billion Colombian pesos loan to help stabilize the finances of state-run utility Electricaribe, Portafolio reported. The loan will have a sovereign guarantee.


* Banco de Inversión y Comercio Exterior SA said Patricio Harte has stepped down as the bank's deputy general manager. The company did not immediately name a replacement or offer a reason for his departure.

* Banco Santander Río SA should be able to achieve its growth targets without significantly compromising its credit strengths, even with its pending acquisition of Argentina-based Citibank NA's retail banking business, Moody's said. However, the bank faces challenges due to possible capital deterioration following the Citi purchase, as well as its relatively high operating expenses and rising exposure to relatively high-risk retail customers, Moody's noted.

* The Argentine province of San Luis terminated an agreement under which Banco Supervielle SA has served as the province's financial agent, effective Feb. 28. The bank said it will analyze the effects of the provincial government's decision, but it does not expect a substantial impact on its economic, financial or asset situation.

* Rombo Compañía Financiera SA said it plans to auction 24-month bonds worth up to 100 million Argentine pesos, expandable to 180 million pesos, on Jan. 25. The bonds will pay a variable annual interest rate equivalent to a base rate plus a cut-off margin to be defined by the company.

* Argentine President Mauricio Macri appointed former central bank President Javier González Fraga to serve as the new head of state-owned Banco de la Nación Argentina, replacing Carlos Melconian. In a statement, Macri thanked Melconian for his "passion and dedication" at the bank's helm, but did not give a reason for his exit. Melconian, who was a key Macri adviser, stepped into the Banco de la Nación role in 2015.

* In a survey by Chile's central bank, local lenders reported that demand for loans from large companies and SMEs was stronger in the fourth quarter of 2016 compared to the prior quarter, although financing conditions remained tight, especially for consumer loans. Better lending conditions appeared to fuel stronger demand.

* Chile launched a 1 trillion Chilean pesos bond offering, IFR reported, citing a lead on the deal. The new bond, due 2021, is a tap of an instrument priced in 2016 and is being issued in a Euroclearable format to foreign investors, "a source familiar with the deal" said.

* Argentina is expected to price a two-part U.S. dollar bond offering on Jan. 19, with order books for the deal already reaching $14 billion, IFR reported. The sovereign set initial price thoughts in the high 5% area on a five-year note and low 7% on a 10-year note.

* BTG Pactual Asset Management expects Chile's IPSA stock exchange index, which rose 12.41% in 2016, to continue recording gains in 2017, although presidential elections in November could generate some volatility, Diario Financiero reported.


* Global green bond issuance will reach another record in 2017 and could even rise to $206 billion, following an increase of 120% to $93.4 billion in 2016, Moody's said. "The market could also be buoyed by public sector measures globally to stimulate green bonds via tax incentives, or similar approaches; and further debate and advances around harmonized reporting and disclosure, including impact," said Henry Shilling, a senior vice president at the rating agency.


* Asia-Pacific: Singapore convicts former traders; South Korea eyes currency swap extension

* Middle East & Africa: National Commercial Bank posts Q4'16 results; Mozambique downgraded

S&P Global Ratings and S&P Global Market Intelligence are owned by S&P Global Inc.

Matthew Craze contributed to this article.

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