After a period of turbulence in the 1980s and 90s, Latin American banks are coming into their own. Buoyed by a number of growing economies throughout the region and the adoption of international regulatory standards, the region’s financial sector is going through a period of enormous transition.
Today, the largest banks in Latin America are largely concentrated in two countries. Brazil claims the five biggest institutions by asset size and six of the top ten spots. Meanwhile, Mexico is host to the four other banks on the list.
Santander Mexico provides a wide range of consumer products, including mortgages, credit cards and personal loans. The bank, a division of Spanish-headquartered Santander (SAN), also caters to business clients. Services include pension fund services, financing solutions and foreign trade services.
9) Banorte, Mexico ($74 billion in assets)
Banorte was opportunistic in the wake of the Mexican financial crisis in the 1990s, acquiring multiple banks and building its presence throughout the country. Officially known as Grupo Financiero Banorte, the bank offers retail banking products as well as investment services, annuity and insurance products, retirement funds and warehousing capabilities.
8) BTG Pactual, Brazil ($81 billion in assets)
Founded in 1983, BTG Pactual Group is a highly diversified financial services company. Among its business units are investment banking, corporate banking, asset management and wealth management groups. In addition to offices throughout Latin America, the organization now has a footprint in North America, Asia and Europe.
7) Banamex, Mexico ($85 billion in assets)
Founded back in 1884 through the merger of Banco Nacional Mexicano and Banco Mercantil Mexicano, Banamex is now a subsidiary of Citigroup. The bank now boasts 1,706 branches and more than 20 million customers. The “Banamex” umbrella includes several other financial firms as well, including Accival brokerage services, Banamex Insurance and Afore Banamex retirement plan services.
6) BBVA Bancomer, Mexico ($101 billion in assets)
Mexico’s largest bank in terms of assets and deposits, Bancomer is a subsidiary of the Spanish company BBVA. Its revenue stream includes retail banking operations, stock brokerage services, insurance and mutual fund management. BBVA Bancoer now has nearly 1,800 branches and 7,750 ATMs throughout the country. (L11, p.4&10)
5) Banco Santander Brasil, Brazil ($194 billion in assets)
Like some several other Latin American banks, Santander Brasil is actually part of a larger European bank – in this case, Spanish-based Santander. In addition to retail banking, credit cards and home loans, the organization offers asset management and commercial banking services.
4) Caixa Economica Federal, Brazil ($380 billion in assets)
Established in 1969, Caixa is a “private government entity” with a close relationship to the Brazilian Ministry of Finance. The bank plays a key role in executing income transfer programs and putting national housing policies into effect. It also manages the country’s lottery program. (L28)
3) Banco Bradesco, Brazil ($391 billion in assets)
Headquarted in São Paulo, Banco Bradesco serves individual as well as business clients. In addition to banking products, it offers insurance services and retirement plans. (L29) Banco Bradesco is currently Brazil’s third-largest bank and second-largest privately held financial institution.
2) Itaú Unibanco Holding, Brazil ($445 billion in assets)
Itaú serves some 40 million Brazilian clients through a network of more than 4,000 branches and nearly 28,000 ATMs across the country. It also provides traditional corporate banking services as well as investment banking operations and merger and acquisition support. Itaú works with roughly 700 institutional clients in Europe, United States and Asia.
1) Banco do Brasil, Brazil ($555 billion in assets)
With approximately $555 billion in assets, the government-controlled Banco do Brasil is Latin America’s dominant bank. On top of lending to individuals and businesses, the bank also offers asset management services and foreign exchange capabilities. Based in Brasilia, the bank has operations in North America, South America, Europe, Asia and Africa.