* Banco del Estado de Chile reported net income attributable to owners of 44.67 billion pesos for the first quarter of the year, up 3.6% from 43.10 billion pesos a year earlier. Provision expenses were down 16.8% yearly to 52.12 billion pesos, from 62.66 billion pesos previously. Meanwhile, operating expenses totaled 202.07 billion pesos, 7.0% higher year over year from 188.92 billion pesos.
* Brazil-based credit card processing company PagSeguro Digital Ltd. plans to launch a digital bank that it plans to call PagBank, and has already registered the name with Brazil's national institute of industrial property, O Estado de S. Paulo reported. To become a bank, the company has to secure an approval from the central bank or purchase a license from an existing financial institution.
MEXICO AND CENTRAL AMERICA
* Mexican central bank Governor Alejandro Díaz de León said authorities had identified hundreds of bank accounts where funds stolen in a cyberattack last month were deposited into, El Economista reported. He said it was still not clear if the attack had originated in Mexico or abroad. Separately, the newspaper said the country's new fintech law would include increased regulation aimed at limiting hacking attacks following last month's incident. Meanwhile, Banco Santander (México) SA Institución de Banca Múltiple said that the cyberattack had not caused any losses to the bank or its clients, the newspaper added, citing a stock market filing.
* Mexico's central bank could raise its benchmark interest rate by 25 basis points at its June monetary policy meeting, especially if negotiations on the North American Free Trade Agreement continue, or will negatively impact the exchange rate, Reforma reported, citing Barclays Capital.
* Scandal-plagued builder Odebrecht SA owes leading banks, including Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social or BNDES, Banco do Brasil SA, Itaú Unibanco Holding SA and Banco Bradesco SA, some 47 billion reais, Folha de S. Paulo reported. It said Itaú and Bradesco were expected to announce a new loan to the company next week as part of its efforts to avert a default.
* Brazilian banks are taking longer than expected to adjust operations in line with the new TLP reference rate for loans disbursed by the BNDES, causing delays for the resources to reach companies, Reuters reported, citing industry sources. The bank's president, Dyogo Oliveira, acknowledged delays in loan approvals but said initial problems were being overcome.
* Banco Central do Brasil has authorized banks to access another year of customers' banking history data in the SCR credit information system, Diário Comércio Indústria & Serviços reported. At present, banks can access 12 months of banking data when customers allow them to do so for loan applications. The central bank said the move was part of its efforts to reduce credit costs by allowing better risk assessment by lenders.
* Brazil's Planning Ministry wants to cut maximum interest rates that can be charged on payroll loans to private sector employees, following a similar move last year that benefited civil servants and pensioners, Valor Econômico reported. The ministry aims to reduce interest rates for the segment during the second half of 2018.
* Re-elected Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro faced international criticism for the conduct of Sunday's elections, in which he won 5.8 million votes against Henri Falcon's 1.8 million votes, Reuters reported. U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan also said the country will not recognize the results of the polls, and will discuss today with G20 leaders in Buenos Aires future measures against Venezuela. Cuba and El Salvador, on the other hand, sent their congratulations.
* More and more small Peruvian entrepreneurs are opening savings accounts, increasing competition between microfinance entities to capture their deposits, Gestión reported. According to the central bank, Peru's financial sector deposits rose 12% last year.
* More Colombians are choosing to borrow from cooperatives and other non-bank financial entities due to lower interest rates, La República reported, citing the Confecoop industry confederation. The savings and loan cooperatives have a credit portfolio of 18.7 trillion pesos, the report said. Meanwhile, Colombia's total credit portfolio reached 205.8 trillion pesos at the end of the first quarter of 2018, boosted by a 4.6% increase in consumer loans, central bank data showed.
* The International Monetary Fund has agreed in principle to grant Argentina a flexible credit line to help their economic program, and negotiations over the final terms of the credit line will now begin. IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said she expects a "rapid conclusion" to the discussions. Argentina reportedly has requested about $30 billion from the IMF.
* Argentine Treasury Minister Nicolás Dujovne, in his new post as coordinator of the government's economic team, is due to hold his first meeting on May 22 as ministers prepare spending cuts to reduce the country's fiscal deficit, Clarín reported. Dujovne, who is leading negotiations with the IMF for standby financing, announced plans earlier this month to cut the deficit target to 2.7% of GDP from 3.2% previously.
* Argentina's government is considering relaunching a program of subsidized loans for small and medium-sized companies that is due to expire at the end of this year, despite opposition from the country's central bank and commercial lenders, Clarín reported. Production Minister Francisco Cabrera reportedly said the government was evaluating credit lines similar to those launched in 2012 which obliged banks to dedicate a certain percentage of their deposits to loans to the sector at capped rates.
* Argentina's Chamber of Commerce criticized a decision by banks to charge for cash deposits under a new central bank provision, La Nacion reported, citing the entity's secretary, Natalio Grinman. The chamber said the charges will mainly affect small business, supermarkets and appliance stores.
* The board of Argentina's Banco Mariva SA appointed Alejandro Iván Moraga to serve as the bank's consumer banking manager.
* Chile's GDP grew by 4.2% year over year during the first quarter of 2018, beating analysts' expectations of a 4% expansion, according to data released by the Chilean central bank. The regulator recorded growth in a majority of economic activities, particularly a 19.3% expansion in mining. The central bank expects the Chilean economy to grow between 3.0% and 4.0% in 2018.
* The Chilean central bank considered cutting its benchmark rate by 25 basis points in its meeting earlier this month, though it ultimately left the rate unchanged at 2.5%, Reuters reported, citing minutes of that meeting.
* Asia-Pacific: Woori Bank to restructure; Inditrade Capital exits broker unit; CBA may cut jobs
* Middle East & Africa: Beltone eyes Oragroup stake; NCB has new chairman; Kigali to list in Kenya
Helen Popper contributed to this article.
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