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Caixa eyeing Petrobras stake sale in May; 12 charged in BNDES scandal

S&P Global Market Intelligence presents the week's latest news and trends in Latin American banking.

Buy and sell

* Banco Topázio SA gained clearance from Brazilian competition watchdog Cade to sell a 20% stake of itself to Edenred Holding Financeira. The sale is now awaiting one final approval from Banco Central do Brasil.

* Brazil's Caixa Econômica Federal could generate a profit of more than 1 billion reais through the sale of its stake in state-run oil company Petrobras, Valor Econômico reported. The bank reportedly plans to conduct the sale in early May.

Crimes and fines

* Brazil's federal public prosecutor's office filed charges against 12 people for alleged irregularities in the operations of state-owned Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social in meat processing company JBS SA between 2007 and 2011. The lawsuit seeks compensation totaling more than 5.5 billion reais.

Regulatory road

* Mexican banking association ABM ruled out an across-the-board agreement among banks and legislators to lower banking fees and commission, claiming that any such deal would violate competition regulations.

* Banco Central de la República Argentina is currently evaluating an extension in the term of its Leliq notes to 30 days from 7 days in a bid to boost the interest paid on deposits and correct a mismatch with deposit rates. A longer term on their Leliq placements is expected to diminish banks' risk and allow them to lend at higher rates.

* Brazil's Senate passed legislation to allow for the creation of so-called simple credit companies in the country, subject to presidential approval. Simple credit companies are entities that offer cheap financing for micro and small enterprises, with their legalization aiming to increase competition in Brazil's banking sector.

* Peruvian bank regulator SBS proposed in the country's congress to get a binding say on M&A approvals, during the preliminary discussions of the merger law. If approved, the proposal would put SBS on an equal footing with the country's competition watchdog Indecopi.

* Proposed amendments to the regulation of Brazilian credit bureaus are credit positive for banks because they would anchor loan origination and risk pricing through increased visibility of customers' histories, Moody's said.

Strategizing

* HSBC Holdings PLC moves forward with rebuilding its operations in Brazil roughly two and a half years after selling its local unit to Banco Bradesco SA. Services will be mainly targeted at a client spectrum of roughly 550 multinational companies and between 50 and 100 large Brazilian enterprises. The bank plans to triple both revenue and headcount within five years.

* Mexican banks Grupo Financiero Scotiabank Inverlat SA de CV and Banco Azteca SA Institución de Banca Múltiple are looking to increase their digital clientele to about half of their total customer base in the coming years. Scotiabank Inverlat aims to increase the percentage of its customers adopting digital channels to over 50% by 2020 from the current 26%. Banco Azteca also plans to expand the number of its clients using digital channels to 7 million in 2019 from the current 4 million.

Earnings highlights

* Colombia's Banco de Bogotá SA booked a 132% year-over-year rise in its fourth-quarter 2018 net income, while FirstCaribbean International Bank Ltd.'s fiscal first quarter profit fell 41% annually.

Featured this week on Market Intelligence

* High interest rates prop up Argentine banking majors' Q4'18 profits: The four largest listed banks in Argentina posted an annual increase of 61.4% in their aggregate fourth-quarter 2018 profit as high borrowing costs buoyed their interest income.

* Hires and Fires: A weekly rundown of executive management, board and other personnel moves at Latin American financial institutions.

* Ratings Roundup: A summary of various ratings actions on Latin American financial institutions and economies.