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Cade recommends approval of Itaú-XP deal; Argentina passes tax reform

* Brazilian antitrust watchdog Cade's superintendent of competition has recommended that the regulator approve Itaú Unibanco Holding SA's deal to acquire a 49.9% stake in XP Investimentos SA as long as both parties comply with all the terms they have agreed to, Reuters reported. Itaú announced the deal to buy the stake for about 6.3 billion Brazilian reais in May.

* Argentina's Senate approved the government's tax reform proposal and its 2018 budget, which anticipates economic expansion of 3.5% and average inflation of 15.7%, Reuters reported. The tax reform bill will slowly cut the corporate tax rate to 25% from 35% over a span of five years, Bloomberg News reported.

MEXICO AND CENTRAL AMERICA

* Mexican central bank Governor Alejandro Diaz de Leon said the Mexican peso will face an adverse environment in 2018 due to volatility in the foreign exchange market, the tax reform in the U.S. and uncertainty surrounding the renegotiation of the NAFTA trade pact, El Financiero reported.

* Mexico posted a trade surplus of $399 million in November, with exports increasing 9.2% from a year earlier and imports rising 8.2%, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing the country's national statistics agency.

* Fitch Ratings said high corporate governance costs could lead to further consolidation among Mexican credit unions in 2018, El Economista reported. The rating agency believes that some credit unions face a challenge in improving their risk management.

* There were 230 merger and acquisition deals in Mexico in 2017, down from 241 in 2016, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing data compiled by Dealogic. The value of M&A activity in the country fell 5% year over year to $23.7 billion in dollar terms.

BRAZIL

* Brazilian President Michel Temer appointed Romildo Carneiro Rolim interim president of Banco do Nordeste do Brasil SA. The appointment follows the launch of an investigation into indications of fraudulent management in the bank's granting of loans to brewery company Grupo Petrópolis.

* Brazilian Labor Minister Ronaldo Nogueira resigned on Dec. 27, Reuters reported. Jovair Arantes, the head of the Brazilian Labour Party, said President Michel Temer will name Congressman Pedro Fernandes as the new labor minister.

* Banco do Brasil SA's board appointed Carla Nesi as individual client director in place of Simão Luiz Kovalski, who will transfer to the bank's operational assets restructuring board, Valor Econômico reported. Adriano Meira Ricci will become the new director of the bank's micro and small companies segment, replacing Edmar Casalatina, who has retired.

SOUTHERN CONE

* BTG Pactual Chile SA Executive Director Juan Guillermo Agüero said the bank is looking to more than double its credit business to $700 million in 2018, Diario Financiero reported, citing an interview he gave to Bloomberg News. Agüero said Sebastian Piñera's recent presidential victory is a positive development for the Chilean market.

* Argentine consumer defense association ADUC has filed a class-action lawsuit against Banco Comafi SA over allegedly unfair maintenance fees charged by the bank for credit cards. The lender said it is preparing arguments against the case.

* Ecus Administradora General de Fondos S.A. said Nicolas Malard resigned as a director, effective Dec. 26. The company appointed Mantza Guzmán Guzmán to replace Malard.

* Banco Security SA carried out a capital increase of 50 billion Chilean pesos through the issuance of 17.5 million new shares, Diario Financiero reported.

* The overall credit portfolio of Paraguayan banks grew 4.06% year over year in November, while the sector's liquidity level increased 6.35%, 5días reported, citing central bank data. The sector's nonperforming loan ratio was 3.15% in November, almost unchanged from the previous month.

* The operational integration between Scotiabank Chile and Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria Chile SA could take up to two years once the two banks close their merger, Scotiabank Chile CEO Francisco Sardón de Taboada told SEMANAeconómica in an interview.

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.