Colombia’s financial institutions posted a combined net profit of COP262 billion ($138 million) in January, down 29% from the same month in 2009, as lending rose marginally and the value of investment in local government bonds didn’t compensate as it did in 2009, the country’s banking regulator said Monday.
Locally owned private-sector banks reported COP168 billion in profits in January, down 30% from COP239 billion in the previous year.
The total loan portfolio in the country, including lending form banks and other institutions, rose 1.5% in January from a year earlier to COP129 trillion, the regulator said. As interest rates are lower in 2010 than in 2009 as a result of the central bank’s monetary stimulus, lending isn’t as profitable as it was a year ago.
In 2009, the banks registered profits from the valuation of their investment portfolio, which is mainly loaded with government peso-denominated bonds.
In recent months, those bonds have lost some value on the secondary market, so banks were unable to offset the lower revenues from lending with profits on government bonds.
Net profit at Bancolombia, the country’s largest bank by assets, fell 14%, to COP48 billion, in January. The net profit figure only includes Bancolombia and not its subsidiaries in Colombia and abroad.
Banco de Bogota, the country’s second-largest bank, posted a net profit of COP35 billion in January, down 32% from January 2009, when it booked a net profit of COP52 billion.
Among foreign-owned banks, the most profitable was the local unit of Spain’s Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA, which earned COP28 billion in January, up from COP27 billion a year earlier. The local unit of Spain’s Banco Santander SA reported its net profit more than doubled to COP13 billion from COP5.3 billion.
The local unit of U.S.-based Citigroup Inc. posted a net loss of COP8.9 billion, the largest of all banks in Colombia. The loss compares with a net profit of COP22 billion in January 2009.
(Inti Landauro, Dow Jones)