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Regulator takes control of Bancrédito; Banco do Nordeste in lending probe

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Regulator takes control of Bancrédito; Banco do Nordeste in lending probe

* Costa Rican financial regulator Conassif took control of troubled lender Banco Crédito Agrícola de Cartago, or Bancrédito, after the bank continued to struggle with poor financial performance and an inability to meet obligations, El Financiero reported. The bank entered into a restructuring plan earlier in 2017 to unwind its financial intermediation business.

* Brazilian authorities launched an operation to investigate "indications of fraudulent management" in credit agreements between Banco do Nordeste do Brasil SA and Grupo Petrópolis, a Brazilian brewery company. The probe stems from irregularities found in the bank's granting of 827 million reais in loans to the brewery for the construction of two factories.

MEXICO AND CENTRAL AMERICA

* Mexico's finance ministry will assess "whether modifications should be made" to the country's fiscal policies in light of the tax reform in the U.S., Reuters reported, citing a document from the ministry.

BRAZIL

* Banco Bradesco SA said its board approved a proposal for interest on shareholders' equity in the amount of 4.82 billion reais. The payment corresponds to a net amount of about 64.13 centavos per common share and 70.54 centavos per preferred share.

* Brazil's central bank said it expects corporate loans in the country to fall 8% in 2017 and 2% in 2018, Reuters reported. Overall loan portfolio growth should reach 3% in 2018 following a 1% shrinkage this year, the bank said.

* Itaú Unibanco Holding SA is looking to revive its car financing business after drastically reducing its participation in the segment in recent years, Valor Econômico reported. The bank will promote auto credit lines through digital channels.

* Banco Santander (Brasil) SA aims to use its digital platform to carry out half of its foreign exchange transactions with corporate clients during the next three years, Valor Econômico reported.

ANDEAN

* Fitch Ratings withdrew Provincial de Reaseguros CA's insurer financial strength rating of C, citing the rating agency's own commercial reasons.

* Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski decided to pardon former authoritarian leader Alberto Fujimori on Dec. 24, triggering protests in the country, Reuters reported. The pardon clears Fujimori of graft and human rights abuse convictions. Kuczynski might reshuffle his cabinet as early as this week after two ministers denounced the pardon and expressed a desire to resign, "a government source" told the newswire.

* Venezuela expelled top envoys of Canada and Brazil from the country after their governments criticized President Nicolas Maduro's administration, Reuters reported. Canada said it would expel a Venezuelan diplomat in retaliation.

* Peru's central bank said it will cut reserve requirements for U.S. dollar deposits to 39% from 40%, effective January 2018, in a move expected to inject about $192 million into the country's financial system during the next 12 months, Reuters reported.

SOUTHERN CONE

* A unit of UnitedHealth Group Inc. has agreed to acquire Empresas Banmédica, a Santiago-based healthcare provider and insurer serving Chile, Colombia and Peru. UnitedHealth Group will offer 2,150 Chilean pesos per share for 100% of the outstanding shares of Empresas Banmédica, valuing the company's equity at 1.7 trillion pesos.

* Compañía Financiera Argentina SA said its board approved the issuance of simple, negotiable obligations for up to 1.00 billion Argentine pesos. The company did not specify the terms of the planned issuance.

* BBVA Banco Francés SA said it tapped Ernesto Gallardo to be its new CFO and market relations head, replacing Ignacio Sanz y Arcelus. Gallardo joins the bank from BBVA Bancomer SA Institución de Banca Múltiple Grupo Financiero BBVA Bancomer, where he has been head of financial management.

* Thomas Griesa, the federal judge in New York who presided over the sovereign debt default lawsuits filed against Argentina by holdout creditors, died Dec. 24, Reuters reported. He was 87 years old.

* Argentina's government said 60% of its debt issuances planned for 2018 will be denominated in the local currency, while most of the planned U.S.-dollar denominated debt will be issued in the first quarter of 2018, Clarín reported.

* Bank of Palestine Plc, which started operating in Chile through a representative office in April, has formally joined Chile's banking industry association, Pulso reported.

* Mastercard Inc. and Chile's Multicaja SA have started operating a new card payment processing network in the country to compete with the dominant Transbank network, Pulso reported. About 80% of card issuers have already been incorporated in the new network, with the remaining expected to be included in the first quarter of 2018.

Helen Popper 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.