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News through April 1

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News through April 1

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

Buyers and sellers

* CorpBancaand Banco Itaú Chile closedtheir pending merger.Following the completion, the merged entity company is now named Itaú CorpBanca.

* Itaú UnibancoHolding SA completed its planned acquisition of BTGPactual Group's debt collection firm Recovery do Brasil ConsultoriaSA. The bank purchased an 89.08% stake in the company, 81.94% of which was acquiredfrom BTG Pactual and 7.14% from other shareholders. Itaú also acquired about 70%of a 38 billion Brazilian reais portfolio in receivables from BTG Pactual.

* Brazilian antitrust regulator Cade will reportedly not Banco Bradesco SA to sell any of its assets to win the agency'sapproval for its acquisition of HSBCBank Brasil SA - Banco Múltiplo. Instead, Cade may ask Bradesco to ensurea high standard of services and maintain HSBC Bank Brasil's tariff policies afterthe deal's completion. The regulator is reportedly expected to issue its verdictin May.

Fines and crimes

* Banco FinansurSA's parent Grupo Indalo has accusedthe government of Argentine President Mauricio Macri of harassing the company throughtax-evasion charges as a tactic to force the group to sell off its assets, mainlyits media business. According to previous reports, the government plans to seizethe assets of businessman Cristóbal López, who owns Indalo, to recoup 8 billionArgentine pesos that are allegedly owed to tax authority AFIP.

* Brazilian authorities have launched corruption against Joseph Safra for allegedlypaying bribes to government tax officials in return for writing off corporate taxdebts. The charges stem from an alleged plan of paying some $4.2 million in bribesin 2014 to tax officials in exchange for waving $500 million in corporate tax debts.Joseph Safra and his family control São Paulo-based Safra Group, an international banking and financial conglomeratewith holdings that include Swiss-based BankJ. Safra Sarasin AG, SafraNational Bank of New York and BancoSafra (Cayman Islands) Ltd., among others.

* Peruvian banking regulator SBS has raised over a lack of supervision for thefinancial system's savings and credit cooperatives. The lack of supervision, accordingto SBS officials, leaves the organizations vulnerable to be used for money-laundering.

Credits and profits

* Banco de BogotáSA CEO Alejandro Figueroa expects the bank's credit portfolio to at only about 12% in 2016 amidrising interest rates in the country after seeing 13.6% credit growth in 2015. Thebank's financial margins, however, should see improvement in 2016, the CEO said.The bank posted net profits of 1.01 trillion Colombian pesos for the second halfof 2015. For the full year of 2015, the company recorded net profits of 2.29 trillionpesos, up 18.2% from 2014.

* Banco Nacionalde Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social posted net income of 6.20 billion reais in 2015, down 29.7% from8.59 billion reais from a year earlier. Results were mostly affected by the weakperformance of the bank's equity holding activities amid a strong depreciation ofthe capital market. Income from financial intermediation reached 18.69 billion reais,39.6% higher than recorded in 2014, while the delinquency ratio was set at 0.06%,well below the average of 3.4% within the country's financial system.

* Commercial banking credit to Mexico's private sector 12.8% annually in February ascorporate credit expanded 16.4% while consumer credit increased 8.8%. Meanwhile,Mexican savings and loan cooperatives, or Socaps, posted profits of some 1.87 billionMexican pesos in 2015, up 46.4% from 2014.

* Paraguay's financial system saw its lending operations anddeposits fall in Februaryby 2% and 1%, respectively, from the previous month. However, loan growth recordedin February was up 18% year over year, while deposits are also 13% above year-agolevels, the publication noted.

* Nonperforming loans that were over 180 days in in Costa Rica's financial systemgrew 12.9% year over year in 2015, reaching 212.36 billion Costa Rican colónes.Financial entities and cooperatives were hit with higher NPLs in 2015, a trend seenover the past several years, however, mutual savings and loans tallied the biggestNPL increase, with a 31.9% year-over-year hike that hit 10.72 billion colónes.

* The ratio of loans over 90 days in arrears in Brazil stayed at 5.5% in February, the same asJanuary, Banco Central do Brasilsaid. The percentage of overdue loans represents the highest level seen historicallysince the measurements began in 2011. Meanwhile, the volume of loans financed through savings depositsin Brazil fell 50.3% year over year in February to reach 3.2 billion reais. Thecentral bank has now loweredits loan growth forecast for 2016 to 5% from 7%, triggered by rising interest ratesand reduced lending appetite from banks.

* Still in Brazil, less than 3% of an 83 billion reais that was announcedby the government in January has been used so far, which is in line with what analystshave told S&P Global Market Intelligence that the government's measures to boostcredit would not be effective due to a lack of borrowers.

* The Chilean government has announced an economic package with 22 initiativesaimed at improving the country's productivity and expanding credit access by upto $8 billion.

Capital moves

* Banco de Chile'sshareholders approved a dividendpayment of about 3.38 Chilean pesos per share corresponding to the bank's 2015 netdistributable income.

* Banco SantanderChile's board agreed to propose a new dividend distribution of 1.78649813 pesos per share to bevoted on at its annual shareholders' meeting April 26. The dividend payment correspondsto 75% of net income attributable to shareholders for 2015.

* Mibanco Bancode la Microempresa SA's shareholders approved a dividend payment from 2015 profits of 114.47 million Peruviansoles, which is about 11.35 céntimos per share. The payment will be made May 4 toshareholders of record as of April 18.

* Banco Financierodel Peru completed the placement of $5 million in 10-year .

* Crédito RealSAB de CV Sociedad Financiera de Objeto Múltiple issued an 18-monthbond worth 1.00 billionMexican pesos in the local bourse.

* Republic FinancialHoldings Ltd. listed an additional 7,983 ordinary shares on Trinidad & Tobago's stock exchange,increasing the company's issued share capital to 162,212,847 ordinary shares.

In other news

* Mexico-based GrupoFinanciero Inbursa SAB de CV CEO Javier Foncerrada Izquierdo said thebank is seeking opportunitiesin Brazil, in spite of the country's deep economic recession.

* Banco BTG PactualSA will ask shareholders to approve its creation of a vice chairman position, while also allowingfor the company to have two CEOs.

* Banco OriginalSA has invested 600 million reais to launch a digital retail bankingplatform that is aimedat attracting 100,000 high-income clients in its first year of operations.

* Banco SantanderRío SA launched a program to investsome 20.18 billion Argentine pesos in Argentina through 2018.

* A recently passed law in Brazil that allows and to acquire equityparticipation in public and private companies could put a further on those state-owned banks, Moody'ssaid.

Featured this week onS&P Global Market Intelligence

* : Colombia's push for greater financial inclusionin the last 10 years has led to an explosion in the number of branches and bankingagents, especially in rural areas, which should facilitate the expansion of digitalbanking in the future, analysts said.

* Best of the WebBrazil's troubles are having a knock-on effect on its neighbors; a political shiftin Latin America spurs a word of warning for eager investors; and The New Yorker deems Dilma Rousseff to bethe new Richard Nixon.

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

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