* U.S.-based Advent International Corp. plans to launch an initial public offering for Argentine payment processing firm Prisma Medios de Pago SA, El Cronista reported. Clarín previously reported that Advent reached an agreement to acquire a 51% stake in Prisma for about $725 million.
* Brazil's economy is expected to grow 2.53% in 2019, roughly in line with forecasts prior to the inauguration of President Jair Bolsonaro, Diário Comércio Indústria & Serviços reported, citing the central bank's latest poll among economists. The poll found unemployment and fiscal restraints as limiting brisker growth.
MEXICO AND CENTRAL AMERICA
* Mexico's state mortgage lender Instituto del Fondo Nacional de la Vivienda para los Trabajadores has approved measures aimed at cutting 719 million pesos from its running costs, Notimex reported. The entity also appointed Bernardo Altamirano Rodríguez as deputy general director of portfolio management and two other executives.
* The board of Panama-based Canal Bank SA appointed Eddy Silvera general manager, with the appointment taking effect Jan. 2. Silvera previously served as vice president of corporate banking and government at Banistmo SA.
* Credit card issuers and processors will have to register with Costa Rica's Sugef financial industry regulator by the end of January under new regulations extending the authority of the body, El Financiero reported. The new measure stems from a law aimed at preventing money laundering and terrorism financing.
* Brazilian Economy Minister Paulo Guedes said state-owned banks in the country should aim to refurbish their image and eliminate "distortions" of the public credit system, following corruption under previous administrations that led to snowballing national debt and a weak credit system, Valor Econômico reported. At the inauguration of the new chiefs of three state-owned banks, Guedes encouraged the new leaders to return to the "mission of reducing distortion" in the credit system, which had seen interest rates spiral for most people while only a small minority benefited.
* The issuance of corporate fixed-income securities including debentures and commercial notes in Brazil rose 34% in 2018 from the previous year to total 200 billion reais, Diário Comércio Indústria & Serviços reported, citing stock exchange operator B3 SA - Brasil Bolsa Balcão.
* Fines imposed by Brazil's central bank increased by nearly 400% in 2018 to reach 85.4 million reais, mostly on penalties on non-financial corporations for foreign exchange fraud, Reuters reported.
* Banco do Brasil SA said former CEO Marcelo Labuto had been appointed as the bank's vice president for retail, Reuters reported. Labuto served as CEO for three months until the appointment of Rubem Novaes, who took office on Jan. 7.
* Banco do Brasil SA's new CEO Rubem Novaes backed plans by the new government to reduce rural credit subsidies, focusing instead on boosting agricultural insurance, Reuters reported. Meanwhile, he rejected the sale of the bank's core assets, calling them the "crown jewels." He added, however, that holdings not directly related to the bank's main activities could be sold off, O Estado de S.Paulo reported separately.
* Banco Bradesco SA CEO Octavio de Lazari said the bank expected to complete this week the placement of 750 million reais in a new real-estate financing security called Letra Imobiliária Garantida or LIGs, Reuters reported. He said 475 million reais in LIGs had already been placed with the bank's private clients.
* Caixa Econômica Federal's new CEO, Pedro Guimarães, said the state-run bank has a debt of 40 billion reais with the government in a hybrid capital and debt instrument, vowing to repay the debt within four years, and suggesting opening the capital of several subsidiaries as a way to raise the funds, Diário Comércio Indústria & Serviços reported. Meanwhile, he pledged to raise between 50 billion and 100 billion reais in financing by selling securities in the financial market in order to bolster the bank's real estate financing.
* Funcef, the pension fund for staff at Caixa Econômica Federal, could close its 2018 accounts with a surplus after registering deficits every year since 2010, Valor Econômico reported. At the end of November 2018, the fund was running a surplus of 1.66 billion reais, according to preliminary data.
* Argentina's government sought to reassure investors about its finances, presenting a two-year financing program that shows it has sufficient funds to meet its payment commitments this year and that it is well-prepared for 2020, Clarín reported. This year's $21.00 billion in obligations will be covered by $22.50 billion from the International Monetary Fund. For next year, it needs $25.9 billion to service its debts, some of which will come from the IMF with the rest planned through domestic debt sales.
* Chile's central bank recorded the country's trade surplus at about $5.38 billion for full year 2018, lower than the 2017 figure of $6.91 billion. For December 2018, the trade surplus was at $596 million, still lower than the $1.30 billion in the same month in 2017.
* Chile's Sernac consumer protection service has reached an agreement with Banco de Credito e Inversiones SA, Banco Consorcio, Banco Internacional SA, Banco BICE, Banco Falabella, Banco Security SA and Scotiabank Chile over clauses in their contracts related to the bank's responsibility in possible fraud cases, La Tercera reported. The Sernac was also considering taking further action against Banco Santander Chile, with which no accord was reached.
* Lending rates in Chile could fall due to a new law obliging businesses to make payments for goods and services within 30 days, a measure aimed at improving cash flow for small companies that often had to wait for months for payment from corporate clients, Bloomberg News reported.
* Chile's Imacec economic activity index rose year over year by a higher-than-expected 3.1% in November 2018, raising expectations that full-year growth could reach 4.0%, La Tercera reported. It said growth in 2018 would be at 4.0% if the result in December came in at least 2.4%.
* Average mortgage loans rates in Chile rose slightly to 3.35% at the end of 2018 following the central bank's decision in October to raise its monetary policy rate, Diario Financiero reported.
IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD
* Middle East & Africa: UAE banks face pressure to merge; Israel holds rate; Angola to stress test banks
* Europe: Italy passes decree to help bolster Carige; investors sue Nordbank for €1.4B
Helen Popper contributed to this article.
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