* Caixa Econômica Federal's net profit in 2017 spiked 202.6% to 12.5 billion Brazilian reais from 4.1 billion reais in 2016. Recurring net income soared 106.9% year over year to 8.6 billion reais and operating income grew 261.7% to 14.5 billion reais, while expenses from provisions for doubtful accounts went down. Meanwhile, revenues from services and charges will account for more of the bank's 2018 income, Diário Comércio Indústria & Serviços reported, citing Arno Meyer, the bank's vice president of finance and controller.
* Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social President Paulo Rabello de Castro said he would remain in his post until the end of the week before launching his presidential campaign, Reuters reported. The deadline for candidates to leave state jobs is April 7.
MEXICO AND CENTRAL AMERICA
* Mexican finance company AlphaCredit is planning to raise up to 3.00 billion Mexican pesos with a sale of five-year debt, El Economista reported. AlphaCredit, which grants consumer loans and financing for small and medium-sized companies, made its first issue of stock certificates for 400 million pesos in 2015.
* Mexico's international reserves rose to $173.22 billion in the week ending March 23, the highest in more than six months, El Economista reported, citing central bank data.
* Cuba's ruling Communist Party admitted that economic reforms forwarded by President Raul Castro are still seeing "errors and insufficiencies," Reuters reported, citing official news arm Granma. The party said the complexity of the undertaking, weak oversight, a lack of financial backing and low engagement from the bureaucracy all contributed to the delay.
* Vinicius Almeida Albernaz will become Bradesco Seguros SA's new CEO, replacing Octavio de Lazari Jr., who has transferred to Banco Bradesco SA to become its CEO. In addition, Investments Director Ricardo Almeida will become the new superintendent director of Bradesco Asset Management SA Distribuidora de Títulos e Valores Mobiliários.
* Brazilian mobile bank Neon launched its first commission-free credit card on March 27, offering interest rates below the market average, Diário Comércio Indústria & Serviços reported.
* Brazil's federal public prosecutor's office has asked Caixa Econômica Federal CEO Gilberto Occhi for access to an independent report as part of the Operação Greenfield investigations probing his alleged involvement in irregularities, Reuters reported. He was given 48 hours to submit a copy of the document.
* Brazil reported a primary budget deficit of 19.29 billion reais, before interest payments, for February, Reuters reported. Economists forecast the deficit would reach 20 billion reais.
* Banco Santander (Brasil) SA said its board of directors had approved a payment in interest on shareholders' equity worth 600 million reais, Reuters reported. The payment, which will be fully charged to mandatory dividends for the 2018 financial year, will be made from April 26.
* Brazilian fintech Toro Investimentos is preparing to launch its brokerage firm in the first half of 2018 after receiving an investment of 46 million reais in exchange for a stake of about 25% in 2017, Reuters reported, citing co-founder Gabriel Kallas. He said the company aimed to have the country's second-biggest brokerage firm by year-end 2018.
* The Brazilian central bank may re-evaluate the country's economic scenario before stopping rate cuts, Reuters reported, citing minutes from the regulator's most recent meeting. While some members of the monetary policy committee preferred to gather more information before acting, others argued there was no need to do so.
* Two buses used in the campaign of former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva were hit by bullets in Parana state, Reuters reported, citing the Worker's Party. The former president was not on board any of the buses. Security officials in Parana state are investigating the matter.
* Peruvian President Martin Vizcarra said he will let the country's diplomats decide on reaffirming a ban on Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's attendance at a summit in Lima in April, Reuters reported. Former President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski earlier banned Maduro from the summit. However, a foreign affairs spokesman said Peru's stand on the matter is still the same, but Vizcarra has not yet met with the country's diplomats.
* Venezuela has not offered its cryptocurrencies as repayment for its $3.15 billion debt owed to Russia under a debt restructuring deal signed in 2017, Reuters reported, citing Konstantin Vyshkovsky of the Russian finance ministry's state debt department.
* Colombian financial entities including banks, insurers and pension fund managers, posted a lower net profit of 781.50 billion Colombian pesos in January 2018, down 230.00 billion pesos from the same month last year, El Tiempo wrote, citing a report from the country's financial superintendency. At the same time, the total credit portfolio grew 2.44% due mainly to an increase in loans for consumption, housing and microcredits, La República noted. The total assets of the local financial system reached 1.500 trillion pesos in January, up 7.8% year-over-year.
* Argentina's central bank on March 27 maintained its monetary policy rate at 27.25%, as year-on-year inflation reached 25.4% in February and core inflation registered at 21.6%. The central bank added that high frequency indicators suggested that core inflation will remain high throughout March, but also said it will continue to manage its monetary policy to reach the 15% intermediate inflation target this year.
* The Argentine central bank performed market intervention on March 27, selling $158.9 million in the local spot market, Reuters reported. The regulator has sold $1.93 billion in March so far to balance effects against the Argentine peso.
* Three of the biggest banks in Argentina – Banco Santander Río SA, Citibank NA Sucursal establecida en la República Argentina and HSBC Bank Argentina SA – are about to launch a "cash in transit" business called Ducitt with an initial investment of $10 million, El Cronista reported. The banks own varying stakes in Gire, the company behind the new service.
* Shareholders of Banco de Credito e Inversiones SA approved a capital increase of 340 billion Chilean pesos, Diario Financiero reported. The capital hike will finance the bank's acquisition of Miami-based TotalBank and Presto, Walmart's Chilean financial division. The bank also merged 29 branches during the first quarter of 2018 as it sought to boost its digital products and services and its network of ATM machines, Diario Financiero wrote separately, citing "sources close to the bank."
* Banco de Chile said it will pay out an amount equal to 40% of its distributable net income from 2017 through the issuance of 1,572,948,922 fully paid-in shares. The amount breaks down to 93.73 Chilean pesos per share, to be distributed among shareholders at the rate of 0.02238030880 of a share for each share already held.
* Alberto Naudon officially started his new job as a director at Chile's central bank on March 27 following his recent appointment for a 10-year term, Pulso reported. Naudon replaces Sebastián Claro, who stepped down in December 2017.
* Banco Santander Chile confirmed the appointment of Felix de Vicente Mingo and Alfonso Gómez Morales as directors, replacing Roberto Zahler and Roberto Méndez on the bank's board, Pulso reported, citing a company statement.
* Chile's Financial Analysis Unit has launched a consultation on proposals for new regulations for card payment issuers and operators aimed at avoiding money laundering and terrorism financing, Pulso reported. The measures include having a designated compliance officer, a prevention manual and staff training.
* Milton Maluhy, CEO at Chile's Itaú CorpBanca, said that client migration should be completed by June 2018, Diario Financiero reported. He told shareholders the bank was still working to integrate technology systems until the first or second quarter of 2019, three years after the merger between Itaú Unibanco Holding SA and CorpBanca.
PAN LATIN AMERICA
* Pablo Sprenger, CEO of the Mexican subsidiary of Sura Asset Management SA, has been appointed as regional head of the company's pensions, saving and investment management division, Diario Financiero reported.
IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD
* Asia-Pacific: South Korea's ING Life draws interest; 2 Chinese firms post higher FY'17 results
* Europe: More banks reveal UK gender pay gap; Deutsche Bank to sell certain Portugal ops
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Helen Popper contributed to this article.
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