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3 suitors remain for Banco Patagonia; QIA sells Santander Brasil stake

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3 suitors remain for Banco Patagonia; QIA sells Santander Brasil stake

* Itaú Unibanco Holding SA, Banco Macro SA and Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA submitted the highest nonbinding bids to acquire Banco do Brasil SA's Argentine unit, Banco Patagonia SA, Bloomberg News reported, citing "people familiar with the matter." The three banks are now qualified to make binding offers and are looking to close a deal in the coming weeks, the sources said.

* Qatar Investment Authority sold a stake of about 2.5% in Banco Santander (Brasil) SA for 2.3 billion Brazilian reais in a restricted offering, Reuters reported. Qatar Investment sold 80 million units of the bank at 25 reais apiece, while banks also exercised an option to buy 12 million additional units at the same price.

MEXICO AND CENTRAL AMERICA

* Banco de México chief Agustin Carstens said the central bank modified its strategy on how to safeguard the Mexican peso following two tweets by U.S. President Donald Trump in January, Reuters reported. Carstens did not specify which tweets he was referring to, but noted that the central bank decided to "move to a scheme in which there was the possibility of offering hedges" after the tweets.

* Guillermo Ortiz, the former governor of Mexico's central bank and current head of BTG Pactual Group's Mexican and Latin American divisions, said Mexico's credit rating could be downgraded in the coming months and investors are therefore keeping a close eye on any changes to the country's outlook, El Financiero reported.

* Mexican banking and securities commission CNBV is evaluating 13 applications from companies that want to register themselves as community financial institutions, or sofipos, El Economista reported. There are currently 43 sofipos operating in Mexico, but the CNBV has not authorized the formation of any new such entities since March 2014 due to a fraud scandal in the sector.

* Mexico's central bank is looking to stimulate greater competition between banks in the provision of payroll loans and payroll-related services for companies, El Economista reported. Many Mexican banks have set restrictions that make it harder for workers to operate accounts at banks other than the one contracted by their employer to distribute wages, the central bank said in a report.

* Mexico's government placed a 10-year bond worth 3 billion udis, which are inflation-indexed investment units, equivalent to roughly 17.20 billion Mexican pesos, El Economista reported.

* Banco Central de Costa Rica's board decided unanimously to raise the central bank's benchmark monetary policy rate by 50 basis points to 2.25%, citing additional pressures on inflation, El Financiero reported.

BRAZIL

* Brazilian tax appeals board CARF rejected an appeal from stock exchange operator Bolsa Balcão Brasil, formerly known as BM&FBOVESPA SA, regarding under-reported tax obligations tied to the 2008 acquisition of Bovespa Holding SA. Bolsa Balcão Brasil said it will challenge the decision in court after all CARF procedures are concluded.

* Banco Bradesco SA said it received a subpoena from the general internal affairs division of Brazil's finance ministry as part of the so-called "Operação Zelotes" tax and bribery case. The bank is being investigated for purportedly hiring a group to pay bribes to government tax officials in exchange for writing off corporate tax debts, a charge the bank has denied.

* The court of Brazilian antitrust regulator Cade said it approved two agreements with Itaú Unibanco Holding SA and units Rede and Hipercard regarding investigations into the companies' anticompetitive practices in the electronic payment market. Cade noted that other investigations into the same practices are still ongoing, involving Cielo, Banco Bradesco SA, Banco do Brasil SA and other companies.

* The Brazilian city of Sao Paulo plans to launch a privatizations and concessions program later in 2017 that is expected to yield about 7 billion reais, Reuters reported, citing Joao Doria, the city's mayor. "Where the state is not important, is not essential, we are going to privatize or do concessions or public-private partnerships," Doria said.

* A survey of Brazilian lawmakers published by Estado de S.Paulo shows that President Michel Temer's proposed pension reform will not be approved by the lower house of Congress, Reuters reported. The reform bill is expected to be voted on by a special lower house committee in April before it is sent to the floor.

* The Brazilian government may broaden its 79 billion reais fiscal deficit target for 2018 due to weak revenue collection, Reuters reported, citing "two officials involved in the policy discussion." Meanwhile, banks and research firms estimate that the country's economy grew between 0.1% and 0.3% in the first quarter, ending a two-year-long recession, the newswire reported separately.

* An association representing employees of Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social has called an urgent meeting on April 6 to discuss how a recent decision to replace the state development bank's long-term TJLP interest rate with a new benchmark rate in 2018 will impact the lender, Diário Comércio Indústria & Serviços reported. The association said the change threatens BNDES' viability as a development bank.

* Murilo Portugal, the president of Brazilian banking federation Febraban, said it is necessary to reduce the cost of financial intermediation in the country in order to lower banking spreads, Diário Comércio Indústria & Serviços reported. He also complained about the local banking sector having to pay more taxes than other sectors.

* Tony Volpon, the former director of international affairs at Brazil's central bank, has joined UBS Brasil Banco de Investimento SA as chief economist, Diário Comércio Indústria & Serviços reported.

* Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social is considering setting up an FIDC credit rights fund aimed at granting loans to medium-sized leveraged firms, Valor Econômico reported, citing Eliane Lustosa, capital markets director at the bank. BNDES also plans to announce in May a tender for the management of a 200 million reais venture capital fund targeting small companies that have almost no access to market financing, Diário Comércio Indústria & Serviços reported.

* Caixa Econômica Federal CEO Gilberto Occhi said around 24,000 people have used cash withdrawn from inactive FGTS severance fund accounts to repay 368 million reais in debt with the state-owned bank, Valor Econômico reported. The payments should help reduce the lender's delinquency rates, the executive added.

* Banco Bradesco SA President Luiz Carlos Trabuco said it is unlikely that Brazil's credit market will grow in 2017 as demand remains weak, Valor Econômico reported. The executive noted that banks have not yet started granting new loans to companies implicated in the so-called Lava-Jato corruption scandal.

ANDEAN

* Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski said the country's economic growth will slow to between 3% and 3.5% in 2017 due to the impact of severe floods before recovering to between 4% and 5% in 2018, El Comercio reported.

* Colombian financial regulators have instructed local banks to implement special measures to aid people affected by mudslides in Mocoa, including allowing them to use the network of any bank free of charge and reschedule debt payments, El Tiempo reported.

SOUTHERN CONE

* Argentine President Mauricio Macri believes he can simultaneously reduce inflation and spur economic growth ahead of upcoming midterm elections in October, Bloomberg News reported. "There's no Plan B. We have to do both things at the same time," Macri said in an interview.

* The CGT, Argentina's biggest umbrella union, started a 24-hour general strike on April 6 that is expected to hit public transport hard, Clarín reported. Union leaders said they called the strike in response to rising discontent with the government and the state of the economy.

* The Inter-American Development Bank expanded a credit line for Argentina by $500 million to help fund social and infrastructure development projects, Fortuna reported. The bank has approved $2.1 billion in financing for the country so far in 2017.

* Argentina's securities regulator, the CNV, has launched a new alert system that allows users to immediately receive market information announced by companies as well as new rules published by the CNV, El Cronista reported.

* Argentine banking association ABA re-elected Claudio Cesario as its president for the fourth time in a row, La Nacion reported. He will serve a new two-year term from 2017 to 2019.

IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD

* Asia-Pacific: Lloyd's commences India ops; APRA warns banks of higher capital demand

* North America: PacWest Bancorp acquiring CU Bancorp for $705M; Cohn could back Glass-Steagall

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.