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Brazil Senate OKs spending cap; Banco Interfinanzas sale approved

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Brazil Senate OKs spending cap; Banco Interfinanzas sale approved

* Argentina's central bank gave its approval for businessman Fabio Calcaterra, who is a cousin of Argentine President Mauricio Macri, to acquire 100% of the share capital and voting rights of Buenos Aires-based Banco Interfinanzas SA, El Cronista reported. The agreement for the sale was reached in August 2015.

* Brazil's Senate voted 53 to 16 in favor of approving a constitutional amendment to limit growth in public spending to the country's inflation rate for a 20-year period, Reuters reported. The Senate still has to vote on some portions of the amendment, including a request to exempt education and health expenditure from the spending cap.

MEXICO AND CENTRAL AMERICA

* Fitch Ratings said its outlook for Central American bank ratings is stable for 2017. Although Fitch expects bank profitability to be generally stable, the level will likely vary between countries, with Nicaraguan and Dominican banks expected to maintain good profitability ratios, while Panamanian, Salvadoran and Guatemalan banks are expected to lag peers.

* Mexico's lower house of Congress voted 318 to 77 in favor of approving a law that will hold the government, banks and others accountable for their handling of personal data, El Economista reported.

CARIBBEAN

* Republic Financial Holdings Ltd. said it listed 29,358 ordinary shares on the Trinidad & Tobago Stock Exchange, increasing the company's issued share capital to 162,303,653 ordinary shares.

BRAZIL

* Marsh, a unit of Marsh & McLennan Cos. Inc., will acquire Brazilian insurance broker AD Corretora De Seguros. Terms of the deal, which is expected to close in December, were not disclosed.

* A Brazilian federal court dismissed corruption charges against banker Joseph Safra originating from an inquiry over alleged bribe payments to government tax officials in exchange for writing off corporate tax debts, Reuters reported. In a statement, Safra Group said the court's decision precludes "the continuation of the action for lack of just cause and the proceeding ... is now closed."

* Brazilian President Michel Temer said his government will unveil new economic stimulus measures on Dec. 15, but gave no additional details, Reuters reported.

* Brazilian President Michel Temer had a phone conversation with U.S. President-elect Donald Trump in which the leaders agreed to strengthen business relations, Reuters reported. "Temer and Trump agreed to launch, immediately after the swearing in of the new American president, an agenda for Brazil-U.S. growth," Temer's office said in a statement.

* Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social said micro, small and medium-sized enterprises can refinance all of their outstanding loans from the bank at the long-term TJLP interest rate of 7.5%, Valor Econômico reported. Ricardo Ramos, a BNDES executive, said the bank expects refinancing volume to reach 10 billion reais.

* A Brazilian court turned down a motion from the federal district's public ministry, ruling that it is legal for banks to charge a fee on ATM cash withdrawals starting from a client's fifth withdrawal in a month, Valor Econômico reported.

* Banco Santander (Brasil) SA has become a "great alternative" to Brazil's two largest private banks in 2016, but the company is still working to boost its profitability to levels seen at Itaú Unibanco Holding SA and Banco Bradesco SA, Valor Econômico reported, citing Santander (Brasil) CEO Sergio Rial.

* Brazilian tax appeals board Carf has delayed a hearing on BM&FBOVESPA SA – Bolsa de Valores Mercadorias e Futuros' appeal in a dispute involving under-reported tax obligations tied to the stock exchange operator's 2008 acquisition of Bovespa Holding SA, Diário Comércio Indústria & Serviços reported. The hearing will now take place in January 2017.

ANDEAN

* Fitch Ratings affirmed and withdrew the BBB+ insurer financial strength rating of Maxseguros EPM Ltd. after the company decided to stop participating in the ratings process. The outlook was stable at the time of withdrawal.

* Fitch Ratings said Ecuadorian banks will continue to be pressured by a weak economy as the country's operating environment limits their growth, profitability and internal capital-generation capacity. The rating agency expects Ecuador's economy to contract 2% in 2016 due to a sharp decline in oil-sector revenues that impacted government spending.

* Colombia's Constitutional Court ruled that the government can fast-track laws needed to implement the country's peace deal with FARC rebels, the Senate said in a statement. The decision will reduce the approval time for new laws to six months instead of about a year, Reuters quoted Senate President Mauricio Lizcano as saying.

* Latin American development bank Banco De Desarrollo De América Latina said it elected Luis Carranza Ugarte to be its new CEO, replacing Enrique García Rodríguez. Carranza Ugarte will assume the role on April 1, 2017, and head the bank for five years.

* As part of a peer review of Venezuelan banks, Fitch Ratings upgraded Banco Nacional de Crédito C.A. Banco Universal's national long-term rating to BBB(ven) from BBB-(ven). The upgrade reflects the bank's improved capitalization and stable asset quality. Fitch also downgraded Banesco Banco Universal C.A.'s long-term national rating to A(ven) from A+(ven) and its short-term national rating to F1(ven) from F1+(ven). The downgrade reflects, among other factors, severe pressures on capitalization as the bank's internal capital generation has not kept pace with inflation-induced asset growth.

SOUTHERN CONE

* Fitch Ratings revised its outlook on Chile to negative from stable, saying that continued weak growth is contributing to deterioration in the country's balance sheet. The central government deficit could reach 3% of GDP in 2016 and 3.3% in 2017, compared to 2.2% in 2015. Fitch expects Chile's economic growth to slow to 1.6% in 2016 from 2.3% in 2015.

* Chile's opposition is pushing the Finance Ministry to appoint former Economy Minister Juan Andrés Fontaine to replace Rodrigo Vergara on the board of Banco Central de Chile, Diario Financiero reported. Vergara, who had headed the central bank since 2011, was recently replaced as president by Mario Marcel. However, his place on the board remains vacant.

* Banco Central de la República Argentina maintained its 35-day benchmark interest rate at 24.75%. In a statement, the central bank said it will "continue to maintain a clear anti-inflationary bias to ensure that the disinflation process continues toward its target of 12% to 17% in 2017."

* Banco Central de Chile held its monetary policy interest rate unchanged at 3.5%, saying that monthly inflation variation in November was in line with its projections. "If the recent trends of the economic scenario persist, and so do their implications on the medium-term inflation outlook, it will be necessary to boost the monetary impulse," the central bank said in a statement.

* Argentina's insurance sector saw premiums grow 38% in the first six months of 2016 compared to the same period a year ago, El Cronista reported, citing data from local insurance regulator SSN.

* Gabriel Ribisich has resigned as head of the Southern Cone region at Citibank NA for personal reasons, La Nación reported, citing a statement from the bank. He plans on participating in social development activities.

* Paraguay-based lender Financiera Río SAECA has acquired the assets and liabilities of rival firm Crisol y Encarnación Financiera SA for an amount equivalent to about $58.5 million, La Nación reported. Through the deal, Financiera Río gained six branches and 26,000 new customers.

PAN LATIN AMERICA

* Fitch Ratings said its sector outlook on global trading and universal banks is stable for 2017. "We expect earnings will remain under pressure, but prospects for asset quality, capitalization, funding and liquidity to remain good," the rating agency said.

IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD

* Europe: Italian banking sector outlook revised; Old Mutual unit prices share sale

Matthew Craze 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.