In the ranking of the 25 largest banks by assets in Central America, the scene is still dominated by banking giants Panama and Costa Rica. This privileged group was characterized by significant growth, so that was not allowed to enter any other competitor to the table.
The assets of the top 25 banks in the region totaled $ 150,495.7 million at December 2015, with figures from Panama to November-, an increase of 9.8% over last year.
Ranking entities in the Central Bank of The Economist equivalent to 64.7% of the size of the square on the isthmus.
Panama occupies 13 places; Costa Rica, 5; Guatemala, 4; Honduras, 2; and El Salvador, in January.
The General Bank of Panama, is enthroned in the first place by assets ($ 13,738.1 million), it continues in second place the National Bank of Costa Rica ($ 11,043.6 million), both positions remain unchanged.
The third edition corresponds to Banco Industrial de Guatemala ($ 9,728,000), it snatched the National Bank of Panama ($ 9,721.5 million), which now occupies the fourth box.
Between the fifth and tenth place are located as follows, in order: Banistmo, of Panama ($ 9,062.1 million); Banco Latinoamericano de Comercio Exterior (Bladex) of Panama ($ 7,854.8 million); Banco de Costa Rica ($ 7,767.5 million), Banrural, of Guatemala ($ 6,978.2 million); BAC International Bank, Panama ($ 6,682.6 million); and the Guatemalan G & T Continental ($ 6,388.0 million).
In its annual performance, more agile competitor has been BAC International Bank of Panama, as it increased its size in 46.4%; while Bank of China Limited, which is in the eleventh position, jumped 34%. also excelled Ficohsa, of Honduras, the seventeenth place ranking ($ 3,952.7 million), thanks to an increase of 25% of its assets.
As a whole, the assets of the Central American banking system grew at a rate of 8.6% and stood at around $ 232,548.9 million.
In terms of loans, the results were better and touched the double digit 10.1% increase, due to a loan portfolio of $ 144,380.2 million was achieved. In terms of profits, Nicaragua ranks as the square with better returns: 20.70% return on equity. Guatemala, Honduras and Panama stood at double-digit levels above.
In earnings, El Salvador faces major challenges, as profits shrank by 14.9%, these were $ 156.91.
The pace will continue this year, hopes Francisco Santa Cruz, manager for Central Pacific Credit Ratings (PCR).
“A Central will help a little low oil prices, but one of the issues that could affect other are the US elections,” says the Salvadoran.
March becomes a key month to define the presidential candidates of the Republican and Democratic parties. The eyes of the world are around the real possibility that Donald Trump, who postulates a speech antiinmigrante- have a real chance of becoming president.
If so, poses Santa Cruz, “immigrants might stop sending remittances to a risky scenario, which would limit the liquidity in the system.”
The largest financial market in the region, Panama, faces a dilemma before it. On the one hand, growth of 6.2% of gross domestic product continues to give him an opportunity to banks to grow, although not at rates of previous years. And on the other, uncertainties internationally not cleared, so you should take care of the granting of credit to sectors at risk, says Ricardo Fernandez, superintendent of banks in that country.
“Panama is not isolated in the world and in the world there are difficulties,” summarizes the Panamanian official.
Internationally oriented banks feel the impact of this weakness in Latin America.
“The year 2015 was challenging, marked by the sharp drop in prices of ‘commodities’, as well as the oil crisis and the depreciation of Latin American currencies. Under this environment we have focused on knowing, even further, the fundamentals of our customers and prospects, in order to preserve the bank’s profitability and capital, “says Rubens V. Amaral Jr., chief executive of Banco Latinoamericano de Foreign trade (Bladex).
The beginning of 2016 has been challenging, says Amaral, since, in general, the projections of the global economy were revised downward. “However, it is very clear that there is a divergent growth pattern, where countries that rely more on United States will continue to benefit, while countries dependent on commodity exports will hit hard by the prolonged drop in prices the ‘commodities’, “says Amaral.
In Costa Rica, last year started slowly due to a break of investments to the economic uncertainty, but as the year progressed the projects were releasing.
The second half was key to end 2015 with an increase in the loan portfolio of 11%, indicating Ronulfo Jiménez, advisor to the Costa Rican Banking Association.
Meanwhile, Guatemala finished for his grace on good terms. “The 2015 was very good for Guatemala despite a complicated international situation in the real part of the economy due to low prices of export products. The country had a positive impact through the reduction of prices on oil, “says the analyst at the Center for National Economic Research (CIEN), Hugo Maul, this has meant a healthy growth of assets and loan portfolio.
This year, the questions are put around what effect a new Credit Card Act, which will control most of the interest.
“The law sets a maximum ceiling of interest around 26%, that is an issue that we are monitoring how it can affect the financial system in Guatemala,” said Santa Cruz, PCR.
Honduras also closed a year sailing skillfully with the closure of a major bank in the square laundering investigation: Continental.
“We believe that the National Commission of Banking and Insurance is doing his homework for greater regulation so that this does not happen again, it is important to do your homework from basic issues such as requiring mandatory risk rating” Santa Cruz says.
For its part, Nicaragua is fulfilling its task of growing a remarkable steps its financial system, its assets rose by 11.0% and its portfolio, 16.7%, in the figures converted into foreign currency.
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