* Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social has completed the early repayment of about 100 billion reais of debt owed to Brazil's national treasury, Reuters reported, citing a statement from the Finance Ministry. The repayment consisted of 40 billion reais in securities and the remaining 60 billion reais in cash. The bank's board also approved a measure to limit the amount of dividends it will pay to the federal government to 60% of its annual net income, the newswire reported separately.
* Argentine Finance Minister Alfonso Prat-Gay has been fired due to differences over management style, Reuters reported, citing cabinet Chief Marcos Pena. The finance ministry is being divided into two sections; a treasury division headed by economist Nicolas Dujovne and a finance division managed by current finance secretary Luis Caputo.
MEXICO AND CENTRAL AMERICA
* Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA said it struck a deal to acquire Openpay, a Mexican financial technology startup specializing in online payments. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. BBVA said the firm should post a profit for 2016.
* Grupo Financiero Santander Mexico SAB de CV said it priced $500 million in aggregate principal amount of 8.500% perpetual subordinated non-preferred contingent convertible additional Tier 1 capital notes, which were sold for 100.00% of their principal amount. Spanish parent Banco Santander SA has agreed to purchase approximately 88% of the aggregate amount of the notes.
* Banco Nacional de Obras y Servicios Públicos SNC granted 470 billion Mexican pesos of loans during 2016, with the bank's loan portfolio at the end of November rising 53% in real terms compared to December 2012, El Financiero reported, citing a statement from the finance ministry.
* Mexico's national council on financial inclusion, the CNIF, said financial inclusion in the country is advancing as it has observed improvements in the infrastructure of banking correspondents as well as an increase in the number of mobile banking accounts, El Economista reported.
* Ebix Inc.'s Latin American unit acquired all of the outstanding capital stock of Rio de Janeiro-based WDev Soluc¸o~es em Tecnologia SA, a software and services firm focused primarily on the insurance marketplace. WDev's current revenue run rate is about $11 million annually. Ebix funded the acquisition using its internal cash reserves, but did not issue any shares.
* Nonperforming loans over 90 days past due in Brazil slipped 10 basis points to 5.8% of non-earmarked loans in November, according to central bank data. The NPL ratio for all loans in November came in at 3.8%, down 10 basis points from October but up 40 basis points from a year ago. Total credit operations in November grew by about 0.3% from the prior month to about 3.104 trillion reais. Compared to the year-ago period, however, lending was down 2.3%.
* The Brazilian central government's primary budget deficit reached 38.4 billion reais in November, compared to a one-off surplus of 40.8 billion reais in the previous month, Bloomberg News reported, citing data from the national treasury.
* Consumer confidence in Brazil, as measured by the Getulio Vargas Foundation index, dropped to 73.3 in December from 79.1 in the previous month, Reuters reported. "The year ends with consumers dissatisfied with their current situation and pessimistic about the next months," Viviane Bittencourt, an economist at the foundation, said in a statement.
* Brazilian Finance Minister Henrique Meirelles has requested Joao Manoel Pinho de Mello, a professor at Sao Paulo-based business school Insper, to join the ministry and head a microeconomic reform program, Reuters reported, citing two anonymous government officials. De Mello is expected to assume the position in February 2017, the officials said.
* Banco Itaú BBA SA, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Bradesco BBI together garnered 44.2% of all investment banking revenues in Brazil in 2016, which remained stable from the previous year at about 1.5 billion reais, Valor Econômico reported, citing data from Dealogic.
* Banco Popular SA said its shareholders accepted the resignation of Juan José Echavarría Soto as a director and appointed alternate director Luis Orlando Álvarez Betancur to replace him.
* Colombian legislators approved a tax reform bill that will enable the government to collect an additional 6.2 trillion Colombian pesos in 2017 by increasing the value-added sales tax to 19% from 16%, The Wall Street Journal reported. The reform will also reduce the tax burden for businesses to 33% by 2019 from 43% currently.
* Total bank loans in Peru reached about 235.11 billion Peruvian soles at the end of November, up 3.62% compared to the same month a year ago assuming a constant exchange rate, El Comercio reported, citing local banking association Asbanc.
* Banco Agropecuario has signed an agreement with Peru's environment ministry to fight deforestation in the country, El Comercio reported. The bank will use information on the ministry's database to inform its lending decisions.
* Argentina signed a tax information exchange deal with the U.S. to strengthen the alliance between the tax agencies of the two countries, Reuters reported. "This agreement furthers Argentina's reintegration in the global economy and marks an important next step in the new era of the U.S.-Argentina relationship," U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said in a statement.
* Manuel Castro Casado has stepped down from his commercial manager positions at Mapfre Compania de Seguros de Vida de Chile S.A. and MAPFRE Compañía de Seguros Generales de Chile SA in order to take on a new role at Spanish parent company MAPFRE SA, the companies said. Pedro Carreño González, who currently serves as territorial director for Granada-Almería in Spain, will take over the commercial manager role.
* Jorge Luis Demaria, a shareholder of Banco Finansur SA, is suing the bank to nullify decisions approved at a shareholders meeting in May related to dividends from 2015 profits and compensation paid to directors, the bank said. Demaria wants the company to overturn its decision to allocate most of it 2015 profits, which totaled 7.44 million Argentine pesos, to a fund for future dividend payments, and to reverse its decision to pay four board members bonuses totaling 8.15 million pesos corresponding to 2015 results.
* Paraguay's 2017 budget was vetoed by President Horacio Cartes after the Senate limited the amount of bonds the government could sell to $349 million, well below the proposed $558 million volume, Reuters reported. As a result of the veto, the country's 2016 budget will apply for 2017 too.
* A 7.6 magnitude earthquake struck southern Chile on Dec. 25, forcing thousands of people to evacuate coastal regions, Reuters reported. No casualties or major damage were reported, and local authorities allowed people to return to their homes three hours after the quake hit.
* LARRAIN VIAL ADMINISTRADORA GENERAL DE FONDOS S.A. confirmed the resignation of Chairman Gonzalo Eguiguren Correa and said he will be replaced by Fernando Barros Tocornal on an interim basis, Pulso reported.
* Argentina's central bank raised the maximum limit of banks' loan portfolios that can be denominated in U.S. dollars by 10 percentage points to 25% as part of its push to simplify the foreign exchange market, El Cronista reported.
Paula Mejia contributed to this article.
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