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Latin 100 1997: The biggest Latin banks

Private-sector Brazilian and Argentine institutions top our table of the leading banks in Latin America ranked by shareholders' equity. Commentary by Rebecca Dobson.

Latin 100 1997: The Full Rankings

Latin 100 1997: Methodology and Definitions

Brazilian banks comprise one-third of this year's Latin 100, based on data from UK rating agency IBCA. Argentina and Chile follow with 18 and 12 banks respectively.

The private banking sector in Brazil has picked up since Euromoney last published its Latin 100 in September 1995. Banco Bradesco now ranks first, with net profits of $815 million, up from $525 million in our previous ranking. It is the largest of the country's 250 private-sector banks in terms of shareholders' equity, total assets and net income. Banco Itaú looks healthy with net income of $579 million, as does Unibanco, which acquired the total assets of failed Banco Nacional in late 1995. Brazil's public-sector banks have not performed as well, however, with many institutions recording substantial losses over the past two years. For example, Banco do Brasil ran up losses of $7.2 billion last year.

Argentine banks look healthy, benefiting from the country's economic recovery. Banco Hipotecario Nacional, at five, ranks highest among its peers in terms of net income. Banco de la Nacion Argentina, eighth, is the largest bank in Argentina by total assets ($13.5

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