S&P Global Market Intelligence presents the week's latest news and trends in Latin American banking.
* Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social will set a ceiling for dividend distributions to companies that take out loans tied to the country's long-term TJLP rate when they are investing in projects financed by the state-run bank, BNDES CEO Maria Silvia Marques said. The executive also said that they plan to create an internal group to assess the bank's financing performance.
* Meanwhile, BNDES said it is formalizing a credit line agreement with the Inter-American Development Bank that is worth up to $2.40 billion to finance productive and sustainable investments.
* The state-run lender's board also approved the early repayment of 100 billion reais in loans owed to the National Treasury.
Buy and sell
* Paraguayan lender Financiera Río SAECA completed its purchase of the assets and liabilities of fellow lender Crisol y Encarnación Financiera SA (CEFISA), said the president of Financiera Río, Cristian Heisecke Velázquez.
* Argentina's central bank approved Argentine businessman Fabio Calcaterra's purchase of 100% of Banco Interfinanzas SA from San Mateo SA.
* Grupo Security SA plans to expand its operations in Peru after recently acquiring Peruvian insurer Protecta SA Compañía de Seguros, the group's chairman, Francisco Silva, said.
Crimes and fines
* A Brazilian federal court dismissed corruption charges against banker Joseph Safra of Safra Group originating from an inquiry over alleged bribe payments to government tax officials in exchange for writing off corporate tax debts.
* Caixa Econômica Federal and the participants of its employee pension fund Funcef will need to inject 7.7 billion reais to cover the fund's shortfall, which was among those investigated by a congressional inquiry that indicted 145 people suspected of involvement in corruption schemes.
* Banco Macro SA said a class action was filed against Macro Fondos SGFCI SA and Banco Macro as the custodian of Macro Fondos, holding both entities liable for a possible value drop in quotas that consumers hold in the funds managed by Macro Fondos.
Rates of interest
* Federal Open Market Committee members announced that the U.S. Federal Reserve raised the target of its key federal funds rate by 25 basis points to a range of 0.5% to 0.75%.
* Banco Central de Chile maintained its monetary policy interest rate at 3.5%, nothing that the monthly inflation variation was in line with its projections.
* Banco de México decided to raise its benchmark interest rate by 50 basis points to 5.75%, citing inflationary pressures, the potential impact of U.S. trade policies on the Mexican economy and the U.S. Fed's rate hike.
Rating agencies weigh in
* Fitch Ratings' outlook for Central American bank ratings is stable for 2017, reflecting "slight changes in growth and financial performance."
* Meanwhile, Fitch said Ecuadorian banks will continue to be pressured by the country's weak economy.
In other news
* Banco do Brasil SA expects personnel expenses to fall by 2.3 billion reais in 2017 as a result of 9,409 employees taking part in the bank's early retirement program, which closed Dec. 9.
* Some banks in Mexico are looking to cut down on their exposure to credit cards by decreasing spending limits amid an economic slowdown and higher interest rates, Reuters reported.
* Banco de Chile and unit Banchile Corredores de Seguros Ltda. have entered into two agreements, both relating to mortgage loans, with Banchile Compañía de Seguros de Vida SA.
Featured this week on S&P Global Market Intelligence
* 5 years of asset growth in Mexico leaves big foreign-owned banks bullish: Five European and North American financial groups have seen asset growth at their Mexican operations over the past five years, and with additional investments lined up, the country will remain an important consideration going forward.
* Best of the Web: Mauricio Macri backtracks from his "magical" vision for Argentina; Cuba and Venezuela's "ironclad coupling" is crumbling; and despite the general damper over Latin America, the region's markets are beating the odds.
* Hires and Fires: Management shuffle in Banco Bradesco SA, among other moves.
* Ratings Roundup: S&P Global Ratings revised its banking industry risk assessment on El Salvador to group 8 from 7 and revised its economic risk score to 9 from 8.
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