LatAm banking

Colombia’s Grupo Aval is on its way to Wall St.

The country’s biggest banking group by assets intends to list on the New York Stock Exchange with an initial public offering of $100m of preferred shares in the form of American Depository Shares (ADSs).

The $100m figure could well change, as Grupo Aval did not disclose the number of shares it plans to issue, or the price, in its SEC filingRead more

The invasion of Central America by Colombia’s major financial groups rumbled on on Tuesday after Bancolombia, the country’s leading bank, snapped up HSBC’s operations in Panama for $2.1bn. Read more

It seems like Latin American banks have learnt to look at their European counterparts with a tad of Schadenfreude.

That, at least, appears to be the case for Oscar Rivera, the outgoing president of the Latin American Banking Federation, or Felaban, who spoke to beyondbrics during their 46th annual assembly in Peru’s capital, Lima. “Latin American banks are solid and liquid,” he said. “Most of all, they are stable.” Read more

Bank of Nova Scotia’s new chief in Mexico, Troy Wright, is enthusiastic about the growing purchasing power of Mexico’s middle class. “We see a lot of opportunity right now to really start to drive a lot more of the business, and take advantage of people’s credit health,” he told Bloomberg this week.  Read more

More evidence that Latin American multinationals – or “multilatinas” – are on the rise: Chile’s CorpGroup on Tuesday struck a deal to buy up to 100 per cent of the shares of Colombia’s Helm Bank for about $1.3bn. Read more

HSBC’s decision to sell off its retail units in Colombia, Peru, Uruguay and Paraguay is welcome news to bankers looking for a foothold in some of the world’s more attractive prospects.

Colombia’s GNB Sudameris appears to already have the jump on rivals for HSBC’s affections, however, with local reports suggesting it is in advanced talks and may have even already clinched a deal. Read more

It’s shopping season for China Inc. As banks in Europe and the US are forced to pare back their operations and shed assets to meet heightened regulatory requirements back home, Chinese banks are moving in.

The latest to shop abroad is China Construction Bank. According to Dow Jones, CCB, the world’s second largest lender by market value, is in talks to buy the Brazilian assets of WestLB, the troubled German bank, in a deal that could be worth $200m-$300m. Read more

When an avalanche of Spanish capital turned up on Latin America’s doorstep over the turn of the century, naysayers shuddered at headlines that welcomed the “New Conquistadors”. Latin America seemed to many to be a risky bet for Spanish banks, energy and telecommunications companies by comparison with the comfort zone provided by European markets.

Instead, the steady growth of Latin America has provided welcome relief for Spanish companies from the financial turmoil at home. But in recent weeks troubles in the old country have appeared to clip the wings of the Spanish companies in LatAm. A weakened Spain, indeed, seems to have lost political clout in the region. Read more

Far from the wreckage of European economies, Colombian banks are having a heyday.

The latest to shop abroad is Davivienda, the country’s third-biggest lender by assets, which has picked up HSBC’s Central American assets for $801m.

Efrain Forero, Davivienda’s chief executive, told reporters on Tuesday the deal added 136 branches in Costa Rica, El Salvador and Honduras, with assets of $4.3bn and loans of $2.5bn. Read more

By Jude Webber, Simon Rabinovitch and Richard Stovin-Bradford

In its 2010 results presentation last May, China’s ICBC, which prides itself on being both the world’s largest listed bank and the most profitable, showed this slide of its global operations.

The red dots and flags on the slide (entitled International Strategy: Stronger global service capacity) illustrated the bank’s overseas interests, including 203 institutions in 28 countries and regions, from Canada to Australia, South Africa to Russia. But Latin America was glaringly empty.

No longer. ICBC has agreed to buy 80 per cent of the Argentine operations of South Africa’s Standard Bank for $600m. Read more

By Jude Webber and Richard Stovin-Bradford

China burst into Argentina in a big way last year, snapping up joint control of the country’s second biggest oil producer, Pan American Energy, in the biggest deal Argentina has seen in a decade. It also grabbed the local unit of Occidental.

Beijing also agreed to back railway projects in Argentina to the tune of $12bn. China’s other interests in Argentina include iron ore, gold, soya, fertiliser and electronics. While Argentina’s heterodox policies have put many investors on the back foot, China has made Argentina its third-biggest investment destination.

Could that investment appetite now extend to banking? Read more