The Colombian unit of Spain’s Banco Santander SA is evaluating the possibility of acquiring local firms to boost its growth in the country, the bank’s top official in the country said Thursday.
“Colombia is a priority,” Roman Blanco, the chief executive of the local unit of Banco Santander, said during a press conference. “We are here to grow in an organic way or in an inorganic way, possibly through acquisitions if there is an opportunity, our shareholders will see how,” he added.
“There is a group of a few medium-sized in Colombia that may be a target for Santander or someone else,” Estefania Leon, a banking analyst with local brokerage Correval, said. “The Colombian unit of Santander itself is part of those medium-sized banks.”
She said there is room for consolidation in the banking industry in Colombia, as a way to make those banks more profitable is by merging with other banks to reduce costs.
The financial regulator in Colombia Wednesday said Banco Santander’s Colombian unit booked a net profit of 62 billion Colombian pesos (US$31 million) over the first nine months of the year, 75% higher than in the same period a year ago. The fastest growth among Colombian banks in the period.
Blanco expects the bank’s net profit will continue the growth path.
Colombia wasn’t always a priority for Banco Santander. The bank’s total assets represented about 3.3% of the total assets of all the country’s private banks at the end of September down from 4.2% in January 2006, according to data from the country’s regulator. The bank was the 13th largest in terms of assets at the end of September 2009, while it was the eighth in January 2006. (Dow Jones)