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Latin America: Bank consolidation stays at the top of the agenda

In some parts of Latin America foreign banks continue to head the push for consolidation, but locals are beginning to cross borders. Chloe Hayward reports.

Scotiabank wants to make the grade

A BANKER ONCE told Euromoney: "Banking sector consolidation will leave five or six banks running the whole banking world one day." This might seem a distant prospect but some banks are trying hard to make it come true in Latin America.

Names such as Citi, HSBC and Scotiabank have been bandied around for a couple of years already, but now we are also seeing certain regional banks, such as Bancolombia, join the banking consolidation frenzy on the continent. So far the large banks have employed distinctive aggressive acquisition strategies. Scotiabank and Citi are yet to make a big move in Brazil as they run their Latin American operations out of Mexico instead. HSBC is looking towards the Andean countries, and the leading investment banks are working on consolidating their positions in each individual market in the region.

Colombian opportunity

One country where foreign banks do not dominate is Colombia. Other than BBVA, no other foreign bank has a significant presence there. As the country’s economy now matures it is expected that a lot of banking consolidation will take place in coming months.

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