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After more than a year and a half of talks, the major securities exchanges in Chile, Colombia and Peru are ready to form themselves into a single, unified market. The new market will be the second largest equity platform in Latin America, ahead of Mexico’s Bolsa Mexicana de Valores and behind Brazil’s Bovespa.

The timing is right. As rich-country markets falter on a slower-than-expected rebound from the economic crisis, investors are looking to fast-growing emerging markets for better returns. Although this new crossborder Andean equity market still does not hold a candle to Brazil, it does give investors a larger target in the region, as well as the simultaneous opportunity to get exposure to three Latin American economies that look very strong coming out of the 2009 recession.

Read more at Financial Services Briefing: “Andean tie-up” (October 5th)

The majority of data and analysis at Financial Services Briefing is available only to subscribers. Each week, a small share of content from the service is made available to non-subscribers.

International financial groups are on the lookout for growth in Latin America. Central America, in particular, is catching their eye.

In July, Banco de Bogotá, a Colombian lender, completed the US$1.9bn purchase of BAC-Credomatic, a Costa Rica-based bank, from GE Money. The deal provides further proof that Latin American banks are shaking off their shyness abroad. It also suggests that Central America, usually overshadowed by the large, fast-growing economies further south, is firmly on the radar of international dealmakers.

Read more at Financial Services Briefing: “Hot spot” (August 18th)

Colombia’s financial regulator reported that banks in the country grew profits by 15% in the year to October. Lenders started the year strong—January profits were up 35% year-on-year—and have posted some equally impressive earnings in recent months.

The situation in Colombia is in stark contrast to neighbouring Venezuela. After seizing four banks and jailing their joint owner late last month, president Hugo Chávez told state television on Wednesday, “If I need to take over all the Venezuelan banks, I’ll do it.” The remaining privately-owned banks in the country should be “taking care,” he added, “because I’ve got my eye on them.” In the year to October, profits at banks in Venezuela fell by 2%. Given the current climate, this trend is unlikely to reverse any time soon.

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