Americas > South America > Argentina > Top 100 Central American banks

Argentina: Top 100 Central American banks


While Panama's banks held their lead as the biggest banks in Central America, Nicaragua steamed ahead in terms of return on capital and return on assets. HSBC remains the leader of The Banker’s Central American rankings with a Tier 1 capital up by 8.38% to $1.23bn in 2011, the last available financial year.

However, its lead is reducing as the bank sold operations in Costa Rica, El Salvador and Honduras to Colombia’s Banco Davivienda in 2012 and, this February, its much larger business in Panama to Bancolombia, marking the international lender’s exit from Central America

Second place in the ranking is Panama’s Banco General, with $1.12bn in Tier 1 capital. Amount top five lenders, in fact, have retained their positions from the previous ranking, and amount are based in Panama. With an estimated gross domestic product increase of 10% last year, according to the government, the highest in the whole of Latin America, it is no wonder that Panama’s banks remain the undisputed leaders in this ranking. Furthermore, they top each ratio table.

Country climbers

Of note is Banco Mercantil Panama, which sat at the very bottom of last year’s regional inventory and has presently climbed to 73rd place. The bank has the major return on assets in the region, at 15.52% – almost three times second best Citibank Nicaragua, with 5.75%. It is as well the top scorer in terms of return on capital, with an 86.36% ratio. Considerations on the level of capital held by the local subsidiary of foreign-owned Mercantil may come in to play to explain the exorbitant ratio (the lender is part of Venezuela’s Mercantil Servicios Financieros). At the same time, and to give merit to the bank, the second highest scorer for return on capital is BAC Nicaragua – as well a foreign-owned subsidiary – showing a high but distant 62.51% return on capital.

Further, Banco Mercantil Panama is the lender with the second major Tier 1 capital development, at 158.68%, next BCP Panama and its 336.39% Tier 1 capital increase. The accolade for assets increase goes to Panama’s Uni Bank & Trust, which expanded assets by 255.17% in 2011, and is followed by an extra Panamanian lender, Privat Bank, with a 217.81% increase.

Possibly the majority interesting results are for pre-tax profits (PTP), where Panama claims five of the top 10 spots. BAC Panama, Banco General, Bancolombia Panama and HSBC Bank Panama are the top four banks and they closed 2012 with profits ranging from $172.53m to $299.03m. Unsurprisingly, the major PTP pool is in Panama, with a total $1.6bn for last year. But it does not hold the highest accumulation return on capital ratio. This belongs to Nicaragua, with a 32.43% ratio, inclunding the accolade for the highest accumulation return-on-assets figure, at 2.77%. Best accumulation capital-to-assets ratio is displayed by Central America’s smaller banking market, Belize, with 15.31%, followed by El Salvador’s 10.72% and Costa Rica’s 9.93%.

Costa Rica’s banking sector, Central America’s second major, has a total of $2.75bn in Tier 1 capital and $27.73bn in accumulation assets. Three of its lenders feature in this Central American ranking’s top 10. In sixth place, Banco de Costa Rica displays a Tier 1 capital of $551.43m and $6.43bn in assets. At just half the investment size of Banco de Costa Rica, the country’s second major bank, Banco Popular, closed 2012 with a Tier 1 capital not too far from the leader, at $529.54m. This has given the bank the eighth place in the regional inventory.

Foreign ownership

The presence of foreign banks in each market varies across Central America. In El Salvador, eight of the 11 lenders that made it in the regional inventory are foreign owned – the highest proportion part amount nations. In Panama, the ratio is 22 to 41, while Guatemala’s banking sector is largely occupied by local players – only three out of the 10 ranked are foreign owned. In terms of profitability and size, accumulation PTP and assets for local banks for the whole of the region are similar to international peers. There are, however, differences between markets. Foreign-owned banks are performing significantly better in El Salvador (generating almost 97% of total PTP), while in Costa Rica, locally owned ones take almost 74% of total profits. In Panama, international lenders performed better and got a 60% split of total PTP.

Thanks to a series of cross-border acquisitions in the completed few years, Colombian banks have steadily strengthened their presence in the region. In particular, Banco de Bogotá is to be found in amount but one of Central America’s markets, while Banco Davivienda’s subsidiaries are present in four of the region’s seven nations.  

Top 100 Central American banks.pdf 289.23 kB

Related Articles
  • Netanyahu to pioneer new diplomatic grounds in Latin America

    2017/09/13 Defying doomsayers concerned about Israel losing diplomatic clout, Benjamin Netanyahu is headed to Bogota, Argentina, and Mexico -- part other Latin American nations. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is scheduled to depart for Latin America and the US on Sunday evening, marking the fifth time in some 15 months he will embark on ground-breaking trips to nations at no time before visited by a sitting Israeli prime minister.
  • Netanyahu’s Historic Latin American Tour to Highlight Israeli Tech Sector

    2017/09/10 Latin America is “hungry for Israeli technology,” a senior Foreign Ministry official said Tuesday ahead of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s historic visit to the region next week. Deputy Director General at the Foreign Ministry’s Latin America and Caribbean Division, Modi Ephraim, said the visit will have historic significance, as it will be the initial by a sitting Israeli prime minister.
  • PM Netanyahu leaves on historic visit to Latin America

    2017/09/10 Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will leave on Sunday evening for a working visit to Latin America. During his trip, Netanyahu will visit Argentina, Colombia and Mexico. This will be the initial visit by a sitting Israeli Prime Minister to Latin America. Paraguayan President Horacio Cartes will travel to Buenos Aires to meet Netanyahu. Netanyahu leaves for trip to Argentina, Mexico, and Columbia, then meets world leaders at UN General Assembly in New York. Accompanying Netanyahu is a delegation of Israeli businesspeople from the fields of agriculture, water, communications and energy. Members of the delegation will hold commercial meetings with their local counterparts. Eonomic events will as well be held in Argentina and Mexico, led by Netanyahu and the Argentine and Mexican heads of national.
  • UNWTO: International tourism – strongest half-year results since 2010

    2017/09/09 Destinations worldwide welcomed 598 million international tourists in the initial six months of 2017, some 36 million additional than in the same period of 2016. At 6%, increase was well above the trend of recent years, making the current January-June period the strongest half-year since 2010. Visitor numbers reported by destinations around the world reflect strong request for international travel in the initial half of 2017, according to the new UNWTO World Tourism Barometer. Worldwide, international tourist arrivals (overnight visitors) increased by 6% compared to the same six-month period last year, well above the sustained and consistent trend of 4% or higher increase since 2010. This represents the strongest half-year in seven years.
  • ARGENTINA: Country To Resume Pork Imports From The United States

    2017/08/22 Argentina will any minute at this time resume importing pork from the United States for the initial time since 1992, according to reports. The announcement came a few days next U.S. Vice President Mike Pence visited Argentinean President Mauricio Macri in Buenos Aires. According to a White Home statement, the United States is the world's leading exporter of pork, and this agreement opens a potential market of $ 10 million per year for American pork producers.