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Colombia: Colombian banks have bright future

Francisco Aristeguieta, Citi Colombia

"Though the GDP growth rate will slow this year I think Colombia will continue to be very profitable for banks"

Francisco Aristeguieta, Citi Colombia

Colombia’s financial institutions continue to be in good shape. They expect record profits for 2008, despite the global turmoil. For the first seven months of 2008, the Colombian banking system reported a net profit of $1.43 billion, a 30.9% increase on the same period in 2007. "Last year was a record year for Citi Colombia in terms of profit and growth, but we expect to close this year with even better profit growth rates," says Francisco Aristeguieta, country head of Citi Colombia and head of the Andean region for Citi.

The number one local bank, Bancolombia, posted profits of Ps670 billion ($307 million), a 58% year-on-year increase. Foreign-owned units increased profits by 30.3% overall, with Santander and Citi driving this increase. Citi’s credit card business has doubled in two years.

The banks’ profits have been boosted by rapidly expanding lending businesses. "Most of Bancolombia’s growth in profits so far this year came from its lending activities.

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