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Colombians are the region's big bankers

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

With the acquisition last year of HSBC Panama by Bancolombia, Colombian institutions have become the biggest actors in the Central American financial market, measured by number of operations.

Together, Bancolombia, Grupo Aval and Davivienda control 18 operations in the region.

Two international banks, United States-based Citi, and Scotiabank, with headquarters in Canada, have eight regional operations.

Meanwhile, Lafise and Promerica, both controlled by Central Americans, operate in ten countries of the region.

Based in Medellin, Bancolombia has acquired Banagricola of El Salvador, Banco Agromercantil of Guatemala, and Banistmo of Panama, formerly HSBC.

Colombia’s biggest bank, Bancolombia had 2012 assets of $56 billion.

Grupo Aval, which in 2010 acquired BAC Credomatic, owns Banco de Bogotá, which in 2012 had assets of $37 billion.

For its part, Bogotá based Davivienda two years ago acquired the operations of HSBC in Costa Rica, El Salvador and Honduras. Its 2012 assets were valued at $27 billion.

For their part, Mexican banks in recent years have tended to seek new business in the growing market of Mexicans working in the United States.

In addition, the domestic market continues to present significant opportunities, due to high levels of underbanking.

The chart shows banks with operations in several Central American countries, by nationality of ownership.


Foreign (1)            
Scotiabank    X      X  X
Citi  X  X    X  X  X
BAC Credomatic (2)  X  X  X  X  X  X
Bancolombia  X  X        X
Davivienda (3)    X  X  X  X  
Lafise      X  X  X  X
Promerica  X  X X  X  X  X

(1) Non-Colombian
(2) A subsidiary of Grupo Aval
(3) A subsidiary of Sociedades Bolivar