Colombian banker Jaime Gilinski made himself a heavyweight the Spanish market after investing $362 million in the Spanish bank Sabadell, local media reported on Wednesday.
“[Gilinski’s] arrival to the European market sends an excellent message of strength and confidence in the Spanish economy,” Alfredo Barragan, a specialist in banking at the University of the Andes in Bogota told financial newspaper La Republica.
The Colombian banker’s investment in Spain’s fourth largest bank comes on the heels of other Colombian banks and bankers scrambling for acquisitions abroad. Already, Gilinski’s Bogota-based GNB Sudameris has invested more than $7 billion outside of Colombia.
Colombia’s financiers have enjoyed an economy relatively unshaken by the global financial crisis, and now they are ready to take advantage of it.
GNB Sudameris just closed a deal on the purchase of Peru’s HSBC operations earlier this week on Monday. Earlier this year, Bancolombia, part of the Grupo Empresarial Antioqueño conglomerate, acquired HSBC’s assets in Panama for $2.1 billion. Since 2007, a row of Colombian banks have diversified their holdings beyond their borders, becoming truly multinational institutions.
Henry Bradford, Vice Chancellor of Colombian Business School CESA, observed the potential benefit for Colombians living abroad. In an interview with reporters, he said that Gilinski’s investment in the Spanish economy means the Colombian bank gets an alternative investment but at the same time it lets Colombians living in Spain send back remittances more easily.
But the move also signals a new horizon of regulatory challenges in Colombia’s financial sector.Now that Colombian banking institutions are moving onto the multinational stage, Bogota’s ruling bodies must keep up.
Accusations earlier this year that some Colombian financial institutions were part of an elaborate drug-related money laundering scheme between Colombia and the U.S. make an example of how rapid expansion in finance with lax regulation could let drug-trafficking get off easy – and stain Colombia’s reputation.
GNB Surameris is owned by Jaime Gilinski and his father Isaac Gilisnki. It possesses holdings in the U.S., Panama, and other countries across Latin America.
Banca local invierta $7.169 millones en el exterior (La Republica)