BANKING HAS TRADITIONALLY BEEN A HOMETOWN AFFAIR IN Latin America. Until recently international bankers were required to ask for government permission to expand operations-they still must in Brazil-if they were allowed to operate at all.
Now the gloves are off. Banco Santander Central Hispano (BSCH) and Banco Bilbao Vizcaya (BBV), both from Spain, are leading an onslaught that has seen a third or more of market share in countries across the region fall into foreign hands in less than half a decade.
Our annual bank special has been tracking such trends for four years now. But as LATIN TRADE Research Associate Gabriela Calder6n discovered as she compiled this year's rankings, it is time to declare the year of the Spanish banks. Through old-fashioned raffles, giveaways and aggressive acquisitions in country after country, BSCH and BBV are building pan-regional franchises at considerable profit
Gabriela, an economist who trained at Florida International University, leads our exclusive rankings on companies, banks, pension funds and mergers & acquisitions. She has also introduced the Big Bank Watch in...