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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.

For dealmakers on the prowl, bargains in emerging markets are getting ever harder to spot, especially in the booming banking sector. But investors with a taste for adventure could do worse than look at Argentina’s listed banks, which have performed strongly of late. Boosted by a buoyant economy and ample scope for growth in a still-underdeveloped market, local banks’ shares have soared this year. But anyone yearning to grab a slice of the Argentinian financial market must also deal with the political uncertainty that still prevails in the country.

Read more at Financial Services Briefing: “Rich pickings” (September 16th)

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)

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.

The planned sale by American International Group (AIG) of its east Asian life insurance business was ultimately just too large a deal. The three-month drama finally came to a close on June 2nd when Prudential dropped its offer for American International Assurance (AIA) after the AIG board rebuffed a request for a cut in the US$35.5bn price.

Still deeply in hock to the US government, AIG now needs a new strategy for AIA. Plan A, keeping AIA, is not a possibility. Plan B was the initial public offering in Hong Kong that the company put on ice when the Pru tabled its offer for the entire firm, Plan C, this past March.

With B and C now looking less appealing, it may be time to consider Plan D: a partial split-up of AIA to allow easier sales to a variety of suitors. After all, insurance companies are still keenly interested in the rapidly growing markets of emerging Asia. They may simply need to take smaller bites.

Read more at Financial Services Briefing: “Time for AIG’s Plan D” (June 2nd)

To balance out yesterday’s gloomy post about private equity, a new report from Ernst & Young strikes a decidedly more cheery tone about the industry. The consultancy lauds private equity’s “resilience”, notes improving quarterly trends beginning in late 2009, and talks of “new horizons” in 2010.

The report is realistic about the prospects of private equity returning to the heady days of 2007. For one thing, the debt financing that fuelled mega-deals during the boom times is simply not available—a chart tracking the ever-shrinking size of deals in recent years is telling in this regard. For the foreseeable future, private equity firms will have to hope that it pays to think small.

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