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Fitch cuts growth forecast for Brazil, Mexico; new chairman at Banco do Brasil

* Fitch Ratings lowered its 2019 GDP growth forecast for Mexico to 1.6% from 2.1%, noting that the economy slowed sharply in the fourth quarter of 2018. It also lowered its 2019 GDP growth estimate for Brazil to 2.1% from 2.2%, also reflecting weak fourth-quarter 2018 performance.

* Luiz Fernando Figueiredo, the CEO of Brazilian investment management company Maua Capital, has accepted an invitation from Economy Minister Paulo Guedes to become board chairman at state-run Banco do Brasil SA, Reuters reported, citing a statement from Maua Capital. Figueiredo will assume the new position in the coming days and will retain his CEO role at Maua Capital, according to the statement.


* The Inter-American Development Bank's private-sector arm granted a $60 million loan to Panama's Global Bank Corp., El Capital Financiero reported. The bank will use the majority of the funds to finance small and medium-sized enterprises.

* Sustaining current loan growth rates will be a key challenge for Mexican banks in 2019 amid projections for low economic growth, El Financiero reported, citing rating agency HR Ratings.

* Banco Azteca SA Institución de Banca Múltiple CEO Alejandro Valenzuela said the bank aims to have 7 million clients using its digital channels by the end of 2019, up from 4 million currently, El Economista reported.

* Scotiabank Inverlat SA Institución de Banca Múltiple CEO Enrique Zorrilla said the bank's aim is to have more than 50% of its customers adopt digital channels by 2020, El Economista reported.


* Caixa Econômica Federal CEO Pedro Guimaraes said the bank is reaching out to investors to sell off distressed real estate assets as part of a broader effort to streamline operations and raise cash, Bloomberg News reported. The planned sales mainly involve defaulted mortgages totaling 8 billion reais as of September 2018.

* Banco Central do Brasil's monetary policy committee unanimously decided to maintain the benchmark Selic interest rate at 6.50%, noting that Brazil's economy remains on a path of gradual recovery. "Various measures of underlying inflation are running at appropriate or comfortable levels," the central bank said.

* Banco Pan SA has called an extraordinary general meeting on April 4 to vote on the removal of Gilberto Magalhães Occhi and Osvaldo Garcia from its board, Valor Econômico reported. Occhi is the former CEO of Caixa Econômica Federal.

* XP Investimentos Corretora de Câmbio Títulos e Valores Mobiliários SA has launched its own insurance company called XP Seguradora, which has started to offer PGBL and VGBL private pension fund products, Valor Econômico reported.

* Banco do Brasil SA said it issued $750 million of senior debt carrying a coupon of 4.75% per year. The notes, which are due in March 2024, were offered abroad to institutional investors.

* The approval rating for Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro's government has fallen to 34% from 49% in mid-January, Reuters reported, citing a poll by Ibope.

* Brazil's government has proposed stricter retirement rules for military personnel with the aim of saving a net 10.45 billion reais in 10 years, The Wall Street Journal reported.

* Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social President Joaquim Levy said the bank will repay 126 billion reais of debt to Brazil's treasury in 2019 as long as doing so does not endanger its financial health, O Estado de S.Paulo reported.


* A proposal by Peru's government to create a state-run pension administrator does not pose a threat to privately owned pension fund administrators, El Comercio reported, citing Giovanna Prialé, the head of the local association of pension fund administrators.


* Paraguay's central bank is working on a computer system that will allow the country's 133 registered credit companies to upload details of their operations and accounts, central bank President José Cantero said in an interview with 5días. This will help the regulator ensure that credit houses are following current regulations.

* Digital banking transactions in Chile have increased 182% since 2013, with debit and credit card transactions growing 122% and 274%, respectively, Diario Financiero reported.


* Asia-Pacific: Thailand keeps rate steady; Vietinbank to divest Saigon Bank shares

* Middle East & Africa: Standard Bank names chief risk officer; Barclays Bank of Kenya raided

* Europe: Brextension' sought; UBS warns on profit; BayernLB gets new CEO

Helen Popper contributed to this article.

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