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The biggest bank in Panama, by some margin, is Banistmo, which has been expanding in central America and Colombia. Banistmo's $6.2 billion in assets dwarf the $2.7 billion of its closest rival in the country, BAC – yet BAC made almost as much money in 2004 ($98 million) as Banistmo did, with its $104 million in profits.

BAC's franchise was obviously of great interest to GE Consumer Finance; it recently acquired a 49.99% stake in the company, which operates in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua as well as in its native Panama. BAC also owns Credomatic, a highly successful credit-card issuer in Central America.

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