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Mexico:Banorte cagy on rumors of IXE acquisition

In a release to the Mexican stock exchange (BMV), Grupo Financiero Banorte was noncommittal on a rumor published by a prominent business columnist that the bank was in talks to acquire IXE Grupo Financiero.

The release said Banorte is “analyzing different strategic alternatives to continue consolidating its leadership position as one of the most important institutions in the Mexican financial system.”

IXE released a similarly vague statement through the BMV, saying it was “exploring options to increase its competitive capacity in the Mexican financial market.”

RUMOR RILES MARKETS

The acquisition rumor that sparked a more than 2% jump in IXE’s stock price on Friday (Oct 1) started with Alberto Aguilar, a financial columnist with daily newspaper El Universal, who published an article that afternoon saying that Banorte “is in very advanced talks to acquire IXE.”

Aguilar’s un-sourced columns have frequently been accurate this year as the rumors have swirled over a possible acquisition of non-bank mortgage lender Hipotecaria Su Casita.

Curiously, this is the second time in recent days that Banorte and IXE have appeared in the same headlines in Mexican papers. Earlier, both banks said they would like to be involved as investors in the restructuring of troubled Mexican airline Mexicana: Banorte by possibly converting a loan to the company into an equity stake and IXE by rounding up a group of investors to purchase the company.

Banorte general manager Alejandro Valenzuela had told the Mexican media that he was “very happy” that IXE was interested in getting involved in the Mexicana restructuring.

IXE PROFITS LAGGING

IXE Grupo Financiero has not been very profitable as of late and has had some trouble picking up the pace following the financial crisis of 2009.

The financial group – which includes an insurer and a securities broker, as well as the 11th largest bank in the Mexican market – earned 28mn pesos (US$2.2mn) in the first half, down 83% from its 1H09 earnings.

As a consequence, the group had a 12-month ROE of 0.89%, the lowest of the 25 financial groups tracked by Mexican banking and securities commission CNBV and far below the industry average of 14.9%.

The group also had to close an ill-timed middle-class consumer banking venture called Banco Deuno that it launched in 2008, rolling it up into its flagship bank in August.

Should Banorte complete a full acquisition of Grupo Financiero IXE, the financial group would overtake Santander Mexico to become the third largest financial group in the Mexican market by assets, behind Banamex and BBVA Bancomer.

Grupo Financiero Banorte is the only top-five financial group in Mexico that is controlled by Mexican capital.

Source: Business News America, 02.10.2010

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Filed under: Banking, BMV - Mexico, Latin America, Mexico, Risk Management, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Banamex – Citigroup forced sales on the table of Mexican Court

Citigroup’s dismal financial state doesn’t grant its chief, Vikram Pandit, much leverage in negotiations these days.

He conceded defeat to Washington on Phibro, deciding that it was simpler to sell the profitable commodities trading unit rather than argue for keeping a risk-taking, capital intensive business that pays megabonuses. But Mr. Pandit has no reason to cave so easily if Citi’s ownership of the Mexican bank Banamex is threatened.

For now, that’s just a possibility. Mexico’s high court is set to decide this week whether to hear a case brought by a contingent of Mexican senators that Citi must offload Banamex because a foreign government owns more than 10 percent of its stock. They want the court to decide whether the finance ministry had the constitutional right to decree in March that the United States government’s 34 percent slice of Citi was acceptable because it was intended to be short term.

FiNETIK Note: The Banamex- Citi cases could also extend to other banks with foreign government holdings like AIG, Bank of America, Bank of New York Mellon, Royal Bank of Scotland. However the strong nationalist sentiments about Banamex do set it above the others.

So Citi is hardly up against a wall just yet — and it reckons any decision to force a sale would breach the North American Free Trade Agreement anyway. But if push comes to shove, the bank should be prepared to put up more of a fight than it did for Phibro.

For starters, Banamex is a full-service bank, not just a trading operation, so Citi has a stronger claim for keeping it. Second, it turns a pretty handy profit. It earned about $750 million in the first half of the year, about half of Citi’s profits from Latin America. As a whole, Citi lost money in the first six months of 2009, omitting one-time items.

And Banamex’s relative success as a retail, commercial and investment bank has turned it into a celebrity within the bank’s corridors of power. At last year’s investor day, Mr. Pandit held the Mexican unit up as an example for how the rest of Citi ought to look.

That makes it a powerful business worth holding on to. And Citi, in large part because of $45 billion in United States taxpayer aid, no longer has to sell profitable businesses just to bolster its balance sheet. Should decisions in Mexico start going against it, the bank has every reason to hunker down for a standoff.

An Alternative View

Just because Banamex is good for Citi doesn’t necessarily mean ownership by Citi is great for Banamex. The United States bank doesn’t help Banamex’s financing costs much, and non-United States ownership could help it attract previously reluctant customers.

Banks in emerging markets can benefit from foreign ownership through lower financing costs, access to an international network and the adoption of proven and trusted processes and technology. It’s not obvious how any of these apply to Banamex.

Its obligations receive no guarantee from the Citi parent company, and its access to financing could even suffer as a result of Citi’s troubles. Moreover, as the second largest bank in Mexico, it is big enough in its own right to get access to international services and acquire the staff and technology needed to be at least as up to date as Citi.

Mexico is a big enough market that its bigger banks are fully competitive, even internationally, without needing help from multinational groups as banks in smaller markets often do. The country is also intensely nationalist, particularly in relation to its neighbor to the north.

Hence, while an independent Banamex might see little difference in relationships with large and sophisticated Mexican companies, it could well benefit from having greater appeal to small businesses, consumers and, from time to time, the Mexican government.

There would be other advantages to Banamex from independence. As a stand-alone bank, it could decide its own strategic goals, organizational priorities and structure. That would most likely be an improvement on fitting in with Citi’s plans, which are currently heavily influenced by its recent losses and government bailouts. Its senior management would have more independence, which might help in attracting the best people.

A ruling forcing Citi to divest Banamex would be hugely disruptive for the bank, but it’s still a possibility. It is in Citi’s interest to object, and there’s a risk any new Banamex owner might not develop the franchise properly. Even so, for Banamex independence could offer attractions.

Source: New York Times, 19.10.2009

Filed under: Latin America, Mexico, News, Risk Management, Services, , , , , , , , , , ,

Japanese regulator slams Citi AML systems – Stop Sales Operations in Japan

Japan’s financial regulator has ordered Citi to stop sales operations at its retail division for a month after the banking giant failed to improve poor anti-money laundering systems.

The Financial Services Agency says there are “fundamental problems” with Citi’s compliance and governance system, which is inadequate for monitoring suspicious transactions.

The FSA has publicly upbraided Citi in the belief that the US bank failed to catch and report money-laundering by a Japanese yakuza criminal syndicate.

FiNETIK recommends

Citibank Japan reprimanded by regulators (The US bank is punished for inadequate internal controls in the third such disciplinary action since 2001), FinanceAsia.com, 29.06.2009

The watchdog says Citi has not sufficiently carried out a business improvement order it was given in 2004, when it was told to shut down its private banking arm for similar failings.

The FSA says “control systems necessary for the detection, monitoring, and follow-up of suspicious transactions have not been developed” and that “despite the fact that it mainly relies on screening based on the database, input data is extremely limited; in addition, the database has not been updated since 2004”.

The regulator also slammed Citi’s management in the country, accusing it of a “lack an understanding of the rules applied in Japan”. Despite establishing an internal audit department, the bank has not accurately identified a series of problems.

The bank has now been told to submit business improvement plans by 31 July which should be executed immediately, with a progress update provided on every three months.

In a statement, the bank says: “Citibank Japan takes this administrative action very seriously and would like to express our sincere apology to our customers and other parties concerned. Citibank Japan is committed to implement all necessary measures to prevent any future occurrence of the problems identified.”

Citibank Japan operates in 35 locations and two Internet-only branches throughout the country.

The FSA rap comes just days after it emerged Citi has suspended loan applications at its correspondent division in the US after a review found some property appraisals and income-verification documents were missing.

Source:Finextra, 26.06.2009

Filed under: Banking, News, Risk Management, Services, , , , , , , ,

Mexican Senate to limit Excessive Credit Card charges by foreign banks, observed by U.S. Senate

[16.04.2009] Mexico’s Senate banking committe approved changes to the financial services law. The Central Bank will be allowed to set limits on the rates that commercial banks can charge on loans.

Banco de Mexico will not set of specific limits to rates; instead, the central bank will set references as to how much banks should be charging for the loans and also have the ability to highlight to the public which banks are charging more than others. “Banco de Mexico will ensure that institutions give loans or credit in accessible and reasonable conditions, and it will take corrective measures so that operations are offered under those terms,” the bill says.

The initiative will now move to the floor of the Senate. The bill doesn’t specify a maximum interest rate. Instead, it calls for policy makers to cap interest rates if they are deemed to be too high or if they prevent low-income Mexicans from obtaining credit.      The legislation would prohibit banks from charging fees that “distort healthy banking practices,” according to the initiative. Banks wouldn’t be able to charge fees for consulting account balances under the measure.

Source: IXE 16.04.2009

[26.03.2009] Two Mexican Senate committees approved proposals to overhaul financial sector regulations that if passed into law would give authorities greater scope to limit the interest rates and commissions that banks charge their customers.

Mexico is not alone. The U.S. Senate Banking Committee will meet on March 31 to consider pro-consumer credit card legislation.

The current credit cards comissions and interest rates in Mexico, charged by foreign banks are the higest in the World and cause to great concern for social instability, for example:

HSBC                 charges 72% p.a. in Mexico  vs.  16%  in the UK

ScotiaBank     charges 61% p.a. in Mexico vs.  18%  in Canada

BBVA                 charges 80% p.a. in Mexico vs. 25% in Spain

Citi/Banamex charges 77% p.a. in Mexico vs.   9% in the US

According to Mexico Bankers Association (ABM) in 2008 there where  26.2 milion credit card holding individuals, which spend  478 Bn pesos ( 33.7 bn US$).

Credit cards might as well be the next bubble to burst, see the Reuters special on consumer credit concerns.

The Finance Commission and the Legislative Studies Commission approved the bill late Wednesday with the backing of senators from the three largest political parties. The commissions said they hope to submit a final draft to the full Senate as soon as possible, according to a Senate press release.

The measure would then be sent to the lower house. The plan would give the Bank of Mexico greater power to regulate commissions and interest rates, ban fees for checking balances at bank branches and require lenders to offer a basic credit card product without “excessive charges.”

Fees and commissions of close to 56.3 bn pesos (3.97 bn US$) last year accounted for about 27% of banks’ operating income, according to National Banking and Securities Commission data.

Five of Mexico’s top seven banks are owned by foreigners. Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA (BBV) and Banco Santander SA (STD) of Spain, Citigroup Inc. (C) of the U.S., HSBC Holdings PLC  ( HBC) of the U.K., and Canada’s Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS) control 68% of bank loans and 69% of deposits.

Source: El Financiero, El Economista,Dow Jones,Reuters,AFP  26.03.2009

Filed under: Banking, Mexico, News, Risk Management, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Mexico’s Finance Minister says U.S. Gov. Citigroup stake temporary

March 20 (Bloomberg) — Mexican Finance Minister Agustin Carstens said U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner told him the government’s stake in Citigroup Inc. is temporary, a position that will help avoid conflicts with Mexican law.

Carstens said the U.S. bailout of Citigroup has helped strengthen its Mexican unit, Grupo Financiero Banamex SA, and that he thinks the U.S. will relinquish its stake in Citigroup by 2012. That forecast was seconded by Manuel Medina-Mora, the chief executive officer for Citigroup’s Latin American division.

President Felipe Calderon’s government had come under pressure from local lawmakers to force Citigroup to dispose of its Banamex unit after the U.S. Treasury agreed to take a 36 percent stake in the New York-based lender. The finance ministry yesterday said that “foreign government aid programs don’t violate Mexican law.”

“We are living through an exceptional, transitory, temporary period,” Carstens said. “The assistance of the U.S. to Citigroup is helping Banamex.”

Calderon will send a bill to Congress that seeks to maintain a restriction on foreign governments holding stakes in Mexican banks while more clearly stating the permissible exceptions during times of crisis, the finance ministry said in a statement yesterday.

Third Rescue

The U.S. government agreed on Feb. 27 to a third rescue of Citigroup, prompting Mexico’s National Banking and Securities commission to say it would study legal implications of the U.S. government’s stake. Citigroup bought Banamex, Mexico’s second- largest bank, for $12.5 billion in 2001.

The new proposed legislation “would establish with total clarity the exceptions strictly necessary to face crises such as those that present themselves today,” the ministry said.

The proposal would specify that banks, after three years of operating under the exemption to allow foreign government stakes, would have to sell 25 percent of their Mexican unit’s shares on the local market. That requirement would rise to 50 percent of shares after six years.

Carstens also said he wants to see the peso strengthen beyond a 14 peso per dollar exchange rate. The Mexican currency rose 0.8 percent to 14.1318 pesos per dollar at 11:30 a.m. New York time.

Source: Bloomberg, 20.03.2009  Bill Faries  wfaries@bloomberg.net; Valerie Rota  vrota1@bloomberg.net in Acapulco, Mexico

Filed under: Banking, Mexico, News, , , , , , , ,

Mexico: Foreign banks highest charges, lowest services

According to a survey by “La Expansion/CNN” the service quality of the 8 biggest banks in Mexico (Banamex, BBVA-Bancomer, HSBC, Santander, Scotiabank, Banorte, Ixe and Inbursa) scored an average of 6 out of 10 in service quality.

IXE Bank led with 8.6 score as the best and most customer friendly service provider, while CitiBanamex and HSBC where below average.  The 8 banks cover 80% of the Mexican market.

According to the survey the bank clients rated woerse the commisions the banks are charging for the value added (or the abscence of it) by the financial service providers.

See the rating chart below: 10 = excellent, 9 = very good, 8 = good, 7= average, 6 = sufficent, below 6 = failed.

Source: La Expansion, FiNETIK,  19.03.2009

Filed under: Banking, Mexico, News, Risk Management, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Mexican Bank Outlook update 2009

Mexican Senate to limit Excessive Credit Card charges by foreign banks, observed by U.S. Senate – 28.03.2009 Update

Mexico: Big foreign banks highest charges, lowest services – 20.03.2009 Update

Banamex  Citibank Earnings (Excerpt from Bloomberg article  17.03.2009)

Profits at Mexico City-based Banamex doubled from 2002, the first full year it was part of the U.S. bank, through 2007, Citigroup Latin America Chief Executive Officer Manuel Medina- Mora said last year. Banamex revenue climbed 6.3 percent in 2008 to 85 billion pesos ($5.86 billion), Chief Executive Officer Enrique Zorrilla said last month. Citigroup’s 2008 sales fell 33 percent to $52.8 billion, according to Bloomberg data.

Now, after New York-based Citigroup received $45 billion in government rescue funds and its shares tumbled 73 percent this year, the outlook for Mexican banking subsidiaries also is dimming as the country heads for its first recession in eight years. The deepening slump in the U.S., the destination for 80 percent of Mexican overseas sales, is curbing export revenue and trimming remittances that help keep up local consumer demand.

Mexican banks will have a “complicated year because of pressures from defaulted loans, a byproduct of the economic backdrop,” said Juan Partida, a banking analyst with UBS AG in Mexico City. UBS estimates Mexico’s economy will contract as much as 4 percent this year.

Paulo Carreno, a spokesman for Banamex in Mexico City, didn’t return calls seeking a comment. Ovidio Cordero, a press representative for Madrid-based Santander, declined to comment. Ruth Lavelle, a press officer at London-based HSBC, didn’t reply to an e-mail request seeking a comment.

Shrinking Economy

Mexico’s economy will shrink 1.9 percent in 2009, according to the average forecast of 30 economists surveyed by the central bank and published this month. Morgan Stanley said yesterday that the economy will contract 5 percent this year. Mexico’s gross domestic product expanded 1.5 percent in 2008, central bank Governor Guillermo Ortiz said in January, after growing 3.2 percent in 2007.

Migrant worker remittances will decline this year after falling in 2008 for the first time since the central bank began tracking transfers in 1995, Mexican Deputy Finance Minister Alejandro Werner said last month. Mexico’s unemployment rate surged to 5 percent in January, the highest since the statistics agency began measuring the data in 2000.

Consumer Lending

While Shaw wrote in a report last month that bad loans will keep rising, Deutsche Bank AG recommended last week that investors take an “overweight” position in Mexican financial stocks. New York-based strategist Guilherme Paiva said Mexican banks will benefit from an increase in lending to consumers who have low debt levels relative to disposable income.

The recommendation helped send shares of billionaire Carlos Slim’s Grupo Financiero Inbursa SA to their biggest gain since 2002, and pushed up Grupo Financiero Banorte SAB, Mexico’s largest publicly-traded bank.

“Banks are going to suffer, but the year is not going to be a catastrophe,” said Angelica Bala, a banking analyst with Standard & Poor’s in Mexico City. “The capitalization of the Mexican banks is the system’s strength.”

Legislators from the nation’s three biggest political parties and bankers will get together on March 19 and 20 in Acapulco, Mexico. President Felipe Calderon, Ortiz, Finance Minister Agustin Carstens and former U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan are scheduled to speak at the conference.

Source: Bloomberg, 17.03.2009  Jose Enrique Arrioja at jarrioja@bloomberg.net; Valerie Rota vrota1@bloomberg.net.

Filed under: Banking, Latin America, Mexico, News, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Hits and Errors of Risk Management in the Crisis – 1st Mexico PRMIA Event for 2009 a Success

The first event for PRMIA Mexico in 2009, “Hits and Errors of Risk Management in the Crisis” was hosted by BMV  the Mexican Stock Exchange, headquartered on the prestigious Paseo de la Reforma located at the financial heart of Mexico City.

Carlos Kretschmer, Director Head of Capital Markets at Scotia Bank Inverlat, the sponsor Institution, welcomed more than 220 delegates and guests who attended last Thursday, March 5th, to learn and discuss with a panel of four well known risk managers speakers with great background in theory and practice on risk management.

Juvencio Ramírez, representing Banco de Mexico, prepared and presented: “Current Status of Financial Risk Management “ and “The Mexican Financial System and the Subprime Crisis: Contagion or Defense? – A Liquidity Risk Perspective”.

On behalf Banamex Citibank, Carlos Vallebueno talked about the “Origin and Evolution of the First Global Crisis. Heleodoro Ruiz, Credit Risk Manager at Banorte, followed and focused on the “Common Elements in the Crisis and Lessons Learned – A Credit Risk Perspective”.

Jorge Galindo, CEO of HiTo and Regional Manager of PRMIA Mexico, completed the conference providing the audience with information and details about PRMIA organization. Right after that, the experts opened the panel for discussion and to respond all delegates’ questions.

At the end of the event, the large group of professionals representing national e international bank institutions in Mexico, mortgage and insurance companies, private corporations, among many others, enjoyed a cocktail outside of the Mexican Stock Exchange Auditorium where they were able to exchange points of view and give a pleasant close to a very interesting evening.

Download the Speaker presentations below:
Juvencio Ramirez, Banixco ( Estado Actual de la Admon de Riesgos Financieros )
Juvencio Ramirez, Banixco ( El Sistema Financiero Mexicano y la Crisis de la Suprime )
Carlos Vallebueno, Banamex ( Aciertos y Errores en la Administracion de Riesgos )
Heleodoro Ruiz,  Banorte  ( Impacto Altamente Improbable )

Jorge Galindo,  HiTo ( PRMIA – Credit Risk Management in Times of Economic Stress )
Jorge Galindo, HiTo ( PRMIA Overview )

Source: PRMIA Mexico, 10.03.2009

Filed under: Banking, BMV - Mexico, Latin America, Library, Mexico, News, Risk Management, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

IXE Grupo Financiero high capitalization ratio earns S&P rating raise

S&P raised its credit rating outlook to stable from negative for IXE Grupo Financiero and its subsidiaries.

 

IXE Grupo Financeiro has shown a strong financial performance and is one of the soundest financial institutions in Mexico.

 

In this time of turmoil and when others are receiving downgrades (see list below), IXE has emerged as a bright star. IXE Banco’s capitalization ratio as of year end 2008 stands at 18.5%, the second highest in the Mexican Financial Sector just behind Inbursa. Furthermore, IXE Banco continues to have outstanding liquidity, as it has significantly more deposits than loan portfolio. 

 

Bank                                       S&P Rating

IXE                                        A, Raised to Stable from Negative

Banamex:                               BBB+, lowered to Negative from Stable

Banorte:                                 BBB, Stable

Santander:                              Lowered to Negative Outlook

Merrill Lynch/BofA:               A, Lowered from A+

MBIA:                                   BBB+, lowered from AA

HSBC Mexico:                      Lowered to Negative Outlook

 

 

Source: IXE Casa de Bolsa, 06.03.2009

Filed under: Banking, Latin America, Mexico, News, Risk Management, , , , , , , , , , ,

ITAU denies Citi’s Banamex talks, Banamex prefering Mexican Investor group

Banco Itau, Latin America’s largest lender, denied it’s in talks to buy Citi’s Banamex. Itau “is not negotiating any stake in Banamex’s capital,” Itau said in a statement sent to the Brazilian securities regulator.

Meanwhile, according to the local newspaper EXCELSIOR, Roberto Hernandeza and Manuel Medina Mora have been lobbying with PRI lawmakers and the Calderon administration in an effort to persuade the US government to sell BANAMEX to a group of Mexican investors.

According to the article, the group of Mexican investors could buy up to 30% of the bank, list in the Mexican Stock Exchange between 30-40% of the company and get a credit line from either the government or another bank for the remaining stake.

Source: IXE Casa de Bolsa, 05.03.2009

Filed under: Banking, Mexico, News, , , , , , , , , ,

FiNETIK and the latest on ITAU / Banamex / Citi

Via the Finetik blog linked here, your info-hungry Otto finds out that Banco Itau (ITU) sent an official communication to the Brazilian regulators last night stating that Itau “..is not negotiating any stake in Banamex’s capital..”.

Now that doesn’t mean there’s no interest, of course. The ITU honchos have already said they’d be interested purchasers if and when Banamex went up for sale. It does mean, however, that ITU isn’t doing anything proactive right now. This fits with the official Citigroup (C) line that Banamex is not up for sale, of course. This won’t quell the rumours, but it will put a dampener on short-term speculation for sure. However it should be clearly pointed out that none of this addresses the core issue here: As explained previously if the US gov’t takes its 36% interest in Citigroup as planned, C will be breaking the Mexican law and cannot hold onto Banamex as things stand. That’s as plain as day.

Finally, a word of kudos for the people at Finetik; I’ve only recently discovered the blog (which is part of a wider capital markets company that specializes in Latin America as well as Asia) and put it on my RSS, but I’ve been very impressed with the quality of information passed over there. I can thoroughly recommend it and say it would be a good addition to your own RSS feed (or regular bookmarked visit). Here’s the link to the blog’s main page.

Disclosure: I have no affiliation whatsoever with Finetik and have never even spoken to the people in my time. I just think it’s a good blog that covers LatAm finance well.

Source: Inca Kola, 05.03.2009

Filed under: Banking, Mexico, News, , , , , , , , , , ,

Rumor: ITAU to buy Banamex from Citigroup

Marcia Peltier Column at Jornal do Commercio (Rio de Janeiro) says that Itau-Unibanco will announce next week the purchase of Banamex. It also says that executives from brazilian bank are already in Mexico City.

Itau-Unibanco opportunities in US crisis

There are two immediate analyses that Itaú has to do. The first is the sale of Citibank’s’ stake in the credit card processor Redecard. The stake is worth R$ 2.9 bn, at market value. Itáu declared that it is only interested in buying 24 mn shares, which will allow it to be the largest shareholder, with a 26.7% stake. At market value, Itaú will have to pay R$ 573 mn. As Redecard trades at 24x BV, it will mean that, net of tax, Itaú will pay less than R$ 400 mn. Itaú also stated that it would like to find a strategic partner for the rest of the stake. The only bank Itau would feel  fit the bill is HSBC, but we are uncertain if it desires to hold such a stake.

The second immediate opportunity that arises, also due to Citibank’s financial problems, is the sale of Citi’s Mexican bank. According to Mexican law, no foreign government can own a bank in that country. As Citi will have as a major shareholder the government of the United States, the situation forces them to sell their Mexican stake. This would be a very attractive asset for Itaú, as it would assure the bank’s international expansion. However, we expect it to let it pass due to the current process of digesting the merger with Unibanco.

Itau Unibanco are in merging process

Itaú and Unibanco have effectively begun the merger of the two banks. There are no expectations of major lay-offs, as
management expects natural turnover and retirements to decrease the total number of employees. There have been
some reductions in specific areas, but nothing significant enough to affect personnel expenses. By 1H10 the merger
should nearly be over, with only some back office mergers in 2011. According to management, there will be no
significant reduction in the number of branches.

IXE Casa de Bolsa conference call: ITAU

Source: IXE Casa de bolsa, 27.02.2009, 03.03.2009

Filed under: Banking, Mexico, News, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Citigroup-Banamex: Failed US Banks vs. Soild Mexican Institutions

Does the US government’s 36 per cent stake in Citi violate Mexican ownership laws? Have we got our countries confused? No. Citi owns Banamex, a Mexican bank with circa 1,200 branches and 2.6m checking accounts. And Latin American finance blog Inca Kola sees a fight brewing over the Southern subsidiary:

The nub of the issue revolves around Mexican law, which states in crystalline manner that foreign governments cannot own more than 10% of any bank that operates inside Mexico. It’s as clear as a bell and on the statute. So as Banamex is a wholly owned subsidiary of Citigroup (C paid $12.1Bn or so back in 2001 for the bank) if the US Gov’t takes its 36% stake in Citigroup then it will be a larger-than-10% shareholder of Banamex, something against Mexican law. Won’t it?

Mexico’s National Banking ans Securities Commission is therefore investigating, while Banamex is saying that the North American Free Trade Agreement will (somehow) protect it.

Selling Banamex would effectively mean an even worse deal for the US government. The unit’s been described by Citi as one of its “crown jewels”, managing to post an $896m net profit for 2008, making it one of the least toxic parts of the banking group. Banamex is accordingly part of Citicorp — the retail (read: non-toxic) part of the Citi empire. Full Article click here.

Source: FT Alphaville 02.03.2009, Inca Kola News 01.03.2009

Mexico Gov. Studying Effect on Banamex of U.S. Aid to Citi,

(Bloomberg) Mexico’s National Banking and Securities commission said it’s studying the legal impact of the U.S. government’s stake in Citigroup Inc., which owns Grupo Financiero Banamex SA.

The U.S. government announced today it plans to convert as much as $25 billion of preferred shares of Citigroup into common stock. The conversion would give the U.S. a 36 percent stake in the New York-based company. Mexico’s banking law prohibits foreign governments from owning or having a stake in banks that operate in Mexico, like Banamex. Citigroup purchased Banamex for $12.5 billion in 2001.

The commission has asked all banks operating in Mexico that have received help from governments to provide information on the aid, the statement said. The banking commission and other financial authorities will “soon” release information on the study, the body said in a statement.

“The Mexican financial authorities are analyzing the legal implications of the aid that foreign governments have granted foreign financial entities that have subsidiaries in Mexico,” the agency said.

Speculation has mounted in recent weeks that Citigroup may sell Banamex to raise cash and shore up capital amid the global financial crisis. Chief Executive Officer Vikram Pandit flew to Mexico Feb. 19 for two days of meetings with clients, Banamex officials and government officials, including Finance Minister Agustin Carstens and central bank Governor Guillermo Ortiz.

Citigroup fell 96 cents, or 39 percent, to $1.50 at 4 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading as a record 1.87 billion shares changed hands. The stock has plummeted 94 percent in the past year.

Source: Bloomberg 27.02.2009 Andres R. Martinez in Mexico City at amartinez28@bloomberg.net

Mexican Bank Asset Value

(IXE) According to local newspaper EL UNIVERSAL columnist Alberto Aguilar, ITAU is one of the government’s favorite candidates to acquire Citigroup’s BANAMEX if they have a minority stake in a group led by Mexican investors.Other candidates that have expressed interest are JP Morgan Chase and HSBC.

IXE understands that if Citibank sells Banamex, it will likely sell its BZ.Bradesco branch as well. Due to the fact that Banamex ranks in second in Mexico (assets) and first (equity), along with an important corporate loans book, while the BZ subsidiary present loans book smaller than the ones presented by mid-size banks, and with a lower ROE, which could be higher considering its BZ peers. Furthermore, Citibank BZ does not present important market share in any particular segment in Brazil.

Banamex instead, possess a significant Mexican banking market (see file attached). This would be a very important operation for Itau if it materializes. We believe foreign players could be potential acquirers of Banamex (including Itau) because local players could end up having problems to find funding to finance the operation in the future. If Itau buys Banamex, it will be coherent with Itau’s Roberto Setubal past speeches.

The following is a table of the size of Mexican Banks (Tot. Assets 2Q08 in billion US$)

US$ 53.4 bn BBVA Bancomer
US$ 38.9 bn Banamex
US$ 31.5 bn Santander
US$ 26.8 bn HSBC
US$ 21.0 bn Bannorte
US$ 12.7 bn Inbursa
US$ 10.0 bn Scotia

Source: IXE Casa de Bolsa, 28.01.2009

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Carlos Slim’s Inbursa Bank Acquires Citigroup Banamex Shares in Mexico

The bank controlled by Carlos Slim Helu, the Mexican billionaire ranked as one of the world’s richest men, paid about $134 million to buy 26 million Mexico-traded shares of Citigroup Inc. over the past five trading days.
Grupo Financiero Inbursa SA’s brokerage unit purchased the Citigroup stake in a series of trades from Nov. 19 through today, according to exchange records, which don’t specify whether the transactions were on behalf of clients or for the bank’s account.
An Inbursa spokesman said the firm had no comment on the trades. The 26 million shares amount to less than 1 percent of the Citigroup’s stock.

Inbursa, based in Mexico City, bought 9.63 million shares on Nov. 20 as Citigroup fell 26 percent in New York to $4.71, sinking below $5 for the first time since 1994 on speculation the company might be forced to sell itself or split up. The stock rebounded 58 percent yesterday after the U.S. government announced a rescue plan, injecting $20 billion of cash and shielding the company from losses on some toxic assets.

The value of the net number of shares acquired by Inbursa was 1.78 billion pesos ($134.3 million), according to Bloomberg data. The Citigroup shares were purchased at an average price of 67.77 pesos apiece.
Citigroup rose 7 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $6.02 today a 3:34 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading.
Slim, 68, controls Inbursa, the bank and brokerage he formed in the 1960s. Citigroup, led by Chief Executive Officer Vikram andit, owns Grupo Financiero Banamex SA, the country’s second-largest lender.

Citigroup, the second-biggest U.S. bank by assets, paid $12.7 billion to acquire Banamex in 2001.
Mexican weekly newspaper El Semanario reported yesterday that Inbursa bought 40 million Citigroup shares over three days on the New York Stock Exchange, citing people involved in thepurchases it did not name. Slim vies with Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Chairman Warren Buffett for the title of world’s richest man according to Forbes magazine.

Source: Bloomberg, 25.11.2008

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