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Andean banks go regional

Banks in Chile, Peru and Colombia are building platforms across the Andean region as a single commercial market between the three countries develops.

During the past two years, a number of banking groups have tried to take advantage of the growing trade links in the Andean region, which is one of the fastest-growing emerging markets in the world. The region’s capital markets are also becoming more connected after the Latin American Integrated Market (Mila) was established in May 2011.

This enables stockbrokers from the three countries to purchase and sell shares from the three stock markets through a local broker. Although the market’s trading volumes are still low, they are expected to pick up as taxation irregularities between the three countries are ironed out.

This has led to a series of acquisitions: Chile’s CorpBanca has bought Helm Bank, Colombia’s seventh-biggest bank, as well as Santander’s operations in Colombia. BTG Pactual, Brazil’s biggest independent investment bank, acquired Celfin, a Chilean rival, and Bolsa y Renta, a Colombian brokerage.

The trend has spread to insurance as well: Grupo Sura, a Colombian investment company, bought ING’s insurance businesses in Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru and Uruguay in 2011. Banco de Crédito del Perú, Peru’s biggest bank, now holds majority stakes in IM Trust, a Chilean stockbroker, and Correval, a Colombian stockbroker.

These financial institutions are following their clients.

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