Following a turbulent period in the 1980s and 1990s, South American banks are beginning to slowly come into their own. Buoyed by the adoption of international regulatory standards and a number of thriving economies throughout Latin America, the region’s financial services sector is undergoing a period of enormous transformation. Today, the 10 biggest banks in South America are largely concentrated in Mexico and Brazil with the latter claiming the five biggest institutions in terms of asset size while the former plays host to four other banks. Below, therefore, we take a look at 7 of the largest banks in South America as follows:
- Banorte, Mexico
In the wake of Mexico’s financial crisis in the 90s, Banorte was quick to act by acquiring multiple banks and quickly establishing its presence throughout the country. Known in official circles as Grupo Financiero Banorte, the bank offers investment services, insurance and annuity products, retirement funds, retail banking products, and warehousing capabilities. Banorte boasts an asset base of $74 billion.
- Banamex, Mexico
Banamex was founded in 1884 through the merger of Banco Mercantil Mexicano and Banco Nacional Mexicano and is now officially a Citigroup subsidiary. The bank’s asset base stands at $85 billion and boasts more than 20 million customers as well as over 1,700 branches. Some of the financial firms under the Banamex umbrella include Afore Banamex retirement plan services, Banamex insurance, and Accival brokerage services.
- BBVA Bancomer, Mexico
Bancomer, a subsidiary of Spanish company BBVA, is Mexico’s biggest bank in terms of deposits and assets ($101 billion in assets). Its revenue stream includes among others mutual fund and insurance management, stock brokerage services, and retail banking operations. BBVA Bancomer now boasts nearly 7,750 ATMs and 1,800 branches spread throughout the country.
- Caixa Economica Federal, Brazil
Established in the late 1960s, Ciaxa is considered a ‘private government entity’ owing to its close relationship with the Finance Ministry in Brazil. It plays a key role in implementing national housing policies and executing income transfer programs whilst also managing Brazil’s lottery program. Caixa Economica Federal boasts an asset base in excess of $380 billion.
- Banco Bradesco, Brazil
Based in Sao Paulo, Banco Bradesco serves business as well as individual clients and offers retirement plans and insurance services besides the traditional banking products. With an asset base of over $391 billion, Banco Bradesco is currently the second-largest privately owned financial institution as well as Brazil’s third-largest bank.
- Itau Unibanco Holding, Brazil
Serving 40 million customers through a network of 28,000 ATMs and more than 4,000 branches, Itau provides merger and acquisition support, investment banking operations, as well traditional corporate banking services. In addition, Itau Unibanco Holding also works closely with more than 700 institutional clients in Asia, United States, and Europe. With an asset base of more than $445 billion, it is little wonder that it has such global outreach.
- Banco do Brasil, Brazil
With an asset base of over $555 billion, the government-run Banco do Brasil is, undoubtedly, South America’s most dominant bank. Besides lending to businesses and individuals, this behemoth also offers foreign exchange capabilities and asset management services. Banco do Brasil has its headquarters in Brasilia but also has operations in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, and North America.