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Foreign banks in Latin America: HSBC builds as others suffer

Not so long ago, HSBC’s Latin American debt franchise could have been described as promising but limited. That’s no longer the case. As some of its rivals struggle to maintain their position in the region, the UK bank is growing new relationships fast. Unlike many competitors, HSBC is still able to offer a full range of services, including writing a cheque when needed. "In the last couple of months, a lot of new clients have been knocking on the door that weren’t before – our overall pipeline for 2009 is now stronger than it was in 2008," says Gerardo Mato, managing director, head of global capital markets and banking, Americas.

Even local bankers in Brazil acknowledge HSBC’s growing prominence. "HSBC is taking advantage of these tough times," says one. "Competitors are suffering and this is giving them the chance to position themselves among important corporate names." The bank was the lead for the last debenture issued in Brazil by water service provider Sabesp in early November. The bank has also helped to bring six-month commercial paper issues to market for telecoms company Embratel, for R$400 million ($166.6 million), and for ISA, an electrical company, for R$200 million in December.

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