* Grupo Financiero Banorte SAB de CV cut about 500 employee positions at newly acquired Grupo Financiero Interacciones SAB de CV and plans to cull another 300 positions in the future, Reuters reported, citing two anonymous sources. However, Banorte CEO Marcos Ramírez Miguel said during an earnings presentation that only 362 Interacciones employees were let go, not 500, El Economista reported. Meanwhile, Interacciones CEO Carlos Rojo Macedo has joined Banorte as general director of infrastructure and project development.
* Banco Santander Chile booked net income attributable to shareholders of 154.52 billion Chilean pesos, or 82 centavos per share, for the second quarter, up 2.7% from 150.44 billion pesos, or 80 centavos per share, in the year-ago period. The bank's net interest income grew 2.7% annually to 353.33 billion pesos, while loan-loss provisions ticked 4.6% higher to 80.00 billion pesos.
* Banco Santander (México) SA Institución de Banca Múltiple posted net income of about 5.17 billion Mexican pesos for the second quarter, up 12.1% from 4.61 billion pesos in the year-ago period. Net interest income jumped 9.5% higher year over year to 14.80 billion pesos, while provisions for loan losses fell 11.0% to 4.67 billion pesos.
MEXICO AND CENTRAL AMERICA
* Grupo Financiero Banorte SAB de CV booked a second-quarter profit of 7.19 billion Mexican pesos, or 2.59 pesos per share, up 26.6% from 5.68 billion pesos, or 2.05 pesos per share, earned in the year-ago period. Net interest income hit 17.86 billion pesos, up 17% year over year, while fee and service income grew 11% to 3.26 billion pesos.
* Concluding talks over revisions to the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico in August would not be unreasonable, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer told lawmakers. "My hope is that we will before very long have a conclusion with respect to Mexico and that, as a result of that, Canada will come in and begin to compromise," Lighthizer said.
* The launch of Mexico's first electronic trading platform, MEI Fondos, is a positive development for the Mexican funds industry that could also bring new challenges for participants, Fitch Ratings said. The open architecture should facilitate domestic fund investing and make the market more attractive by providing a broader array of investment options, according to the rating agency.
* Mexico's central bank and banking and securities commission CNBV are looking to accelerate the process of outlining regulations for application programming interfaces, or APIs, which are considered to be the backbone of the country's new fintech law, El Financiero reported.
* Grupo Financiero HSBC SA de CV booked a pre-tax profit of about 4.91 billion Mexican pesos for the first half of 2018, up 64.5% from 2.98 billion pesos in the same period a year ago.
* Banco Bradesco SA expects delinquency levels to decline throughout 2018 as Brazil continues to recover from its deep economic crisis, executives said during an earnings conference call. CEO Octavio de Lazari Jr. said the truck drivers' strike that paralyzed Brazil in May had only a marginal impact on the bank's credit operations as customers continued to conduct transactions online.
* A former employee of Funcef, Caixa Econômica Federal's pension fund, has accused one of the fund's directors of coercing subordinates to contribute cash for the director's re-election campaigns earlier in 2018, Valor Econômico reported. The former employee, Cilesia Gonçalves de Lima, was sacked in May and has now filed a lawsuit against Funcef and Caixa for harassment.
* Banco Agrario de Colombia SA said it appointed Heider Rojas Quesada as its new president, La Republica reported. His previous experience includes roles at Colombia's interior ministry and banking regulator.
* Moody's downgraded the government of Chile's issuer and senior unsecured debt ratings to A1 from Aa3 and revised the outlook to stable from negative. The rating downgrade reflects the gradual but broad-based deterioration in Chile's credit profile. Despite clear indications of near-term improvements in economic and fiscal prospects, the rating agency does not see the country regaining the credit strength it had in previous years.
* Chile's Supreme Court declared the country's labor courts competent to hear and resolve Banco de Chile's challenge to a Labor Directorate ruling on the minimum staffing levels and services the bank must maintain in the event of a strike, Diario Financiero reported. The bank was not satisfied with the Directorate's 9% workforce allocation and wants to increase that figure to at least 11%.
* Argentine stock market operator Bolsas y Mercados Argentinos SA will start trading Merval future contracts on July 27 as part of an agreement with Brazil's B3 SA – Brasil, Bolsa, Balcão stock exchange operator, El Cronista reported.
* Luis González, the head of the institutional services division at Chile's central bank, has resigned and will leave the post on Oct. 8, La Tercera reported.
* Banco de Credito e Inversiones SA and Banco Santander Chile accounted for 270 and nearly 300 of the active credit cards, respectively, that fell victim to a data breach earlier this week, although both banks immediately blocked the cards upon being notified of the incident, top executives from the banks told Diario Financiero. Data for about 14,000 credit cards in Chile was stolen and released on Twitter July 25, although most of them were inactive.
PAN LATIN AMERICA
* The Latin America reinsurance industry's capital position is still sound, despite having seen record losses in 2017 on the back of major catastrophic events, according to Fitch Ratings. Catastrophe economic losses in the region hit $104 billion during 2017, more than five times the prior record loss of US$20 billion in 2013. The bulk of the losses came from two major storms and two earthquakes in Mexico. Together, those four events made up $101 billion of the year's economic losses and some $36 billion in insured losses, Fitch said.
IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD
* Asia-Pacific: Ex-China banking regulator sentenced to prison; SBI Life Q1 profit rises
* Middle East & Africa: More Gulf banks post Q2; Nedbank sees higher results; Greek bank to exit Egypt
* Global Markets: New York markets pre-open: Dollar gains, ahead of US GDP; Twitter plunges
Helen Popper contributed to this article.
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