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Caixa launches new redundancy scheme; Moody's revises Colombia's outlook

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Caixa launches new redundancy scheme; Moody's revises Colombia's outlook

* Caixa Econômica Federal has announced to its employees a new voluntary redundancy program as it looks to further cut expenses, Valor Econômico reported, citing a statement obtained from the bank. The program will run from Feb. 23 to March 5. The financial incentive for those who will subscribe to the scheme will be equivalent to 9.8x their basic compensation, but will only be limited to 490,000 Brazilian reais.

* Moody's revised its outlook on Colombia to negative from stable, reflecting the expectation of a slowdown in fiscal consolidation and weaker fiscal metrics, plus the possibility that a new administration in upcoming presidential elections will lack an effective mandate to pass fiscal measures that will preserve fiscal strength.

MEXICO AND CENTRAL AMERICA

* Banco de Costa Rica and Banco Nacional de Costa Rica hold 60% of the government bonds in the hands of the country's public and private banks, El Financiero reported, citing government and central bank data through November 2017.

* Bank credit to Guatemala's private sector is expected to show a modest rebound in 2018 but persistent political uncertainty could hamper its growth, El Periodico reported, citing interim central bank president Sergio Recinos. Demand for microfinance loans remains in decline and consumer loan growth is sluggish, but credit to larger companies started the year with greater dynamism, the report said.

* Mexico's central bank board has pushed back its target for inflation to converge towards its target range until the first quarter of 2019, El Economista reported, citing the minutes of the last monetary policy meeting. The target for inflation is 3.0% plus or minus one percentage point. "The probability that Banco de México keeps hiking the key interest rate is still high," Gabriela Siller, head of economic analysis for Banco Base SA Institución de Banca Múltiple Grupo Financiero Base, told Reuters.

* Moody's believes Mexico's credit profile of A3, negative, will face damaging consequences if the U.S. pulls out of the North American Free Trade Agreement. The rating agency said Mexican states may be more vulnerable because lower cross-border investment and bilateral trade will likely have a negative impact on non-earmarked federal transfers, which make up about one-third of states' total revenues.

BRAZIL

* Banco Votorantim SA's profit for the fourth quarter of 2017 rose 31.1% year over year to 156.0 million reais from 119 million reais. The result was driven by a drop in personnel and administrative expenses, down to 657 million reais from 693 million reais incurred a year earlier. The bank's result for loan losses and impairments also shrank year over year to 487 million reais from 766 million reais.

* Banco BMG SA reported net income of 6.0 million reais for the fourth quarter of 2017, down sharply from the 22.0 million reais earned in the year-ago period. Non-operating results for the quarter saw a loss of 1 million reais, compared to a positive impact of 431 million reais in the fourth quarter of 2016.

* Banco do Brasil SA's conservative credit growth guidance in 2018 takes into account the likelihood of increased competition, Valor Econômico reported, citing the bank's President, CEO & Director Paulo Caffarelli. The bank expects its expanded organic domestic loan portfolio to grow 1% to 4% this year, adding it forecasts Brazil's GDP to grow 2.8% in 2018.

* Itaúsa - Investimentos Itaú SA said it will pay a dividend relating to the fourth quarter of 2017, worth 1.50 centavos per share, based on the final shareholding position as of Feb. 28.

* Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social will launch a cryptocurrency called Trubudget in the next few weeks for operations being carried out by the development bank, Reuters reported, citing the bank's planning director Carlos Costa. He said the idea is that the virtual currency be used by BNDES borrowers to pay suppliers.

* Banco BTG Pactual SA's founder Andre Esteves will soon be acquitted of corruption charges and will rejoin the group, Bloomberg News reported, citing "three people with direct knowledge of the matter." Meanwhile, CEO Roberto Sallouti and CFO Joao Dantas will reportedly increase their holdings in the company, as will other company executives.

* Brazil's National Monetary Council has issued a resolution allowing wage deposit accounts to be offered by non-bank financial entities such as PayPal and Nubank, Valor Econômico reported, citing the central bank's regulation head Silvia Marques.

* The Brazilian government has proposed the passage of a bill to formalize the autonomy of the central bank, Bloomberg News reported. Central bank president Ilan Goldfajn said he was also in favor of establishing fixed terms of office for central bank directors.

SOUTHERN CONE

* The board of GPAT Compañía Financiera SA approved the issuance of series XXXII notes for up to 450.0 million Argentine pesos, though it did not specify the terms of the offering or set the auction and issuance dates.

* Banco de La Pampa Sociedad de Economía Mixta said Iñigo Alberola had left his position as the company's general manager, effective Feb. 21. The Argentine bank did not give a reason for Alberola's departure nor did they name a replacement.

* Argentina's central bank wants to accelerate the sale of Banco Finansur SA to avoid the lender's liquidation before March 9, La Nación reported. Local media said earlier this year that most of the lender's assets would be bought by Banco de Galicia y Buenos Aires SA.

* Advent International has hired the former chief executive of Visa Argentina SA, Luis Schvimer, to advise the private equity company on the purchase of Argentine card and payment processing firm Prisma Medios de Pago SA, El Cronista reported. Prisma, which is jointly owned by 14 local banks and Visa International, is being broken up following an antitrust probe.

PAN LATIN AMERICA

* Argentina's National Migration Directorate is extending the deadline for Venezuelans who are processing paperwork in applying for residency in Argentina, Reuters reported. Meanwhile, Colombia's migration agency reported a 30% drop in Venezuelans migrating to the country over the previous two weeks after tightening border controls. Guyana also erected two military bases near its border with Venezuela, which President David Granger said was to rebuff "incursion and invasion."

IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD

* Asia-Pacific: Japan to check regional banks' defenses; Paytm registers 2 insurance units

* Middle East & Africa: Bahraini bank eyes Saudi, UAE expansion; Kenyan banks urged to rethink plans

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.