* Caixa Econômica Federal is preparing for an initial public offering for its Caixa Seguridade Participações SA insurance unit in April, an operation that would value the company at between 50 billion reais and 60 billion reais, O Estado de S. Paulo reported, citing sources familiar with the matter. Separately, the newspaper said that – in a fundamental step ahead of the IPO – Caixa was due to announce on Jan. 6 a partnership with Tokio Marine on home insurance.
* Bolivia will hold new presidential and parliamentary elections on May 3, Reuters reported, citing Salvador Romero, the president of Bolivia's Supreme Electoral Tribunal. Former President Evo Morales, who resigned after he was elected to a fourth term in 2019 in a vote that was discredited by international organizations, will not stand for reelection.
* Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social has taken another key step towards selling its ordinary shares in Brazilian state oil company Petrobras, O Estado de S. Paulo reported. Petrobras said in a document published on Jan. 3 that BNDES would seek to sell a little under half its stake in the energy firm in an operation that could move 23.5 billion reais.
* Rival Venezuelan lawmakers elected two chiefs of the National Assembly on Jan. 5, Reuters reported. Legislators from the Socialist Party of President Nicolas Maduro elected Luis Parra after government troops blocked opposition leaders' access to parliament. The opposition then reelected Juan Guaido as head of the National Assembly. Dozens of nations, including the United States and the Lima Group, have condemned the actions of the Maduro administration.
* Inflation in Peru was 1.9% in December 2019, close to the middle of the central bank's target range and one of the lowest rates in the region, El Comercio reported, citing data from the monetary authority. In the same period in 2018, the Andean country registered inflation of 2.2%.
* Starting in January 2020, Peruvian payment processor Procesos de Medios de Pago SA will start affiliating cards carrying both the Mastercard and Visa brand, allowing its Izipay subsidiary to compete with VisaNet, General Manager Felipe Venturo told El Comercio. VisaNet recently signed an affiliation deal with Mastercard, dealing a blow to Izipay, which had exclusively handled Mastercard cards.
* Inflation in Colombia was 3.8% in 2019, up 62 basis points from the previous year, Portafolio reported, citing data from the country's national statistics department. The annual reading was within the target range set by the central bank.
* Executives at Banco de la Nación Argentina are pushing against attempts by agricultural company Vicentin SAIC to restructure $900 million of its debt to the bank, Bloomberg News reported, citing people familiar with the matter. The sources also said the bank will also probe irregularities in loans made to Vicentin.
* Argentina's economy is expected to shrink 1.6% this year, marking a third consecutive annual contraction, while inflation is forecast to slow to 42.2%, Clarín reported, citing the central bank's latest survey of economists' expectations.
* The Argentine central bank is seen to reduce reserve requirements for banks that opt to finance small and medium-sized companies at annual rates of 40%, though the size of the reduction has not yet been announced, El Cronista reported.
* Argentina's peso stabilized at 77 pesos per U.S. dollar last week in the parallel foreign exchange market after sliding to 80 per greenback during the run-up to Christmas, El Cronista reported. The newspaper noted that the central bank had been buying dollars in recent sessions as it seeks to replenish its foreign reserves.
* The Chilean central bank said it would halt sales of dollars in the spot market and 30-day forwards this week, driving the greenback to a three-week high against the peso, La Tercera reported. The monetary authority said it would only renew the 30-day forwards this week, putting the brakes on the sales for the first time since it started intervening in the market.
IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD
* Asia-Pacific: China updates lending rules; Indian bourse seeks approval for IPO
* Middle East & Africa: Burgan Bank to sell stake in Iraqi bank; 2 Angolan lenders set to recapitalize
* Europe: Commerzbank to raise Comdirect stake; Gibraltar bank levy; Danske fine estimate
Helen Popper contributed to this article.
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