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Mexican banking: Banorte works towards full enchilada offering

Banorte, the biggest locally owned bank in Mexico, plans to establish a new venture capital unit that will be spun off from its distressed assets business, Solida, according to the bank’s chief executive.

The new unit will try to build on the success of Solida’s existing investments in venture capital projects, especially in infrastructure and real estate. Solida began to invest in these sectors a couple of years ago as part of its strategy to diversify away from its core business of buying distressed assets. These venture capital investments provide more than 25% of Solida’s profits, although they account for less than 5% of its assets.

"Although Solida was clearly doing very well, we thought it could be a medium-term business and that is why we looked into diversifying the business and maintaining profitability," says Alejandro Valenzuela, chief executive of Banorte, explaining why Solida turned to making venture capital investments.

"We have now divided Solida into different operating units, with one using part of the capital generated by the business to invest in venture capital projects. This is a new business line for Banorte that could lead to an entirely new business unit in time," says Valenzuela, who adds that no decision has yet been taken as to when the new unit will be up and running.

Solida accounts for less than 10% of Banorte’s profits compared with about 50% at the peak of its business in 2003.

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