* Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro's chief of staff, Onyx Lorenzoni, said the government will not increase taxes on financial transactions, saying that the president no longer saw the need to hike the tax after talking to the tax collection agency's head, Reuters reported. Earlier on Jan. 4, Bolsonaro spurred confusion when he first said that his government signed a decree to raise the tax. The country's tax agency later disputed such an increase. "There must have been some confusion, he did not sign anything," Marcos Cintra, the secretary of the tax agency, said.
* FID Peru SA completed its acquisition of a majority stake in La Positiva Seguros y Reaseguros SA by purchasing 194,224,590 shares which account for a 51% of the company's share capital.
MEXICO AND CENTRAL AMERICA
* A Mexican judge declared the bankruptcy of Genera Destino, a Mexican sofom or multi-purpose financial company owned by Alta Grupo, which is unable to service its debt of four billion pesos, El Economista reported. A sofipo or popular financial company owned by the group – Alta Servicios Financieros – was previously absorbed by the Finamigo popular financial society.
* Brazil's new President Jair Bolsonaro may increase taxes on personal loans to fund development projects in north and northeast regions of Brazil, according to a Reuters report citing local daily Folha de S. Paulo.
* Brazil's benchmark Bovespa index closed to an all-time high of 5% on Jan. 4, resulting from promises of free market and privatizations by the newly inaugurated president, Jair Bolsonaro, Reuters reported.
* Eduardo Leite, governor of Brazil's Rio Grande do Sul state told Estadão in an interview that he has rejected federal government proposals to privatize state-run bank Banco do Estado do Rio Grande do Sul SA, saying its privatization would be "unviable" and inopportune. The bank has been included on a list of possible privatizations by the administration of President Jair Bolsonaro.
* Caixa Econômica Federal CEO Pedro Guimarães told Valor Econômico in an interview that the state-run bank will use the proceeds of initial public offerings in subsidiaries to repay funds to the Treasury.
* Schroder Investment Management Brasil Distribuidora de Títulos e Valores Mobiliá has launched a fund wholly dedicated to corporate debt, responding to increased demand in recent months for fixed-income funds with private credit, Valor Econômico reported.
* Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social could return 100 billion reais to the Treasury this year, almost four times the 26 billion reais it was previously scheduled to repay, according to the development bank's financial director, Carlos Thadeu de Freitas, Valor Econômico reported.
* The team of Brazilian Economy Minister Paulo Guedes has scrapped proposals to merge the Susep private insurance regulator and Previc pension regulator, Valor Econômico reported, citing O Globo columnist Lauro Jardim. Valor reported in December 2018 that the merger of the two bodies was being considered as a way to boost efficiency and reduce costs.
* Venezuela's opposition-controlled Congress declared President Nicolás Maduro's election as illegitimate, days before he is due to start a new term on Jan. 10, El Financiero reported. Congress head Juan Guaidó reiterated the legislature's rejection of the May 2018 elections, saying Maduro would be "usurping" the office of president when he is sworn in.
* Argentina's private sector credit portfolio shrank in real terms in 2018, closing the year at 1.571 trillion pesos, up 17.18% or 230.30 billion pesos from the previous year, but trailing far behind inflation, Clarín reported, citing the First Capital Group consulting firm. The stock of personal loans fell 0.54% in December from the previous month to 419.55 billion pesos, the second consecutive monthly decline.
IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD
* Asia-Pacific: China to cut banks' reserve requirement ratio; India merges 3 banks
* Middle East & Africa: Iran moves to save battered currency; Ghana concludes banking sector cleanup
Helen Popper contributed to this article.
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