Spanish "coup" in Brazil
Banco Santander Central Hispano, BSCH, strengthened its hold in the Brazilian banking system by acquiring in public auction Banespa, (Banco do Estado de Sao Paulo), one of the countries main financial institutions belonging to the state of Sao Paulo.
BSCH offered 3,55 billion US dollars, almost triple (281%) the runner up's bid from Brazilian bank Itau.
"Brazil is essential for our business in Latin America, and we have always stated we want a leading position in the market", read an official release from the Spanish bank that also has a strong presence in Argentina, Chile and Uruguay.
However and in spite of praise from Brazilian officials, Citigroup, BankBoston, HBSC and UBS Warburg analysts, who originally were interested in the auction and finally did not participate fearing Banespa's low earnings and future labour dispute, believe that BSCH acted in an "over aggressive" manner.
"It's an excessive price", said Bruno Pereira from UBS Warburg in Rio do Janeiro.
Similarly in Madrid stock exchange BSCH shares dropped sharply, showing concern about the outlay and the fact that the Spanish bank has an "over exposure in emerging markets".
Banespa is the sixth most important bank in Brazil with 15 billion US dollars in assets, 576 branches, 10 of them overseas and over three million clients and 21.000 employees. Fiscal agreement in Argentina
Fiscal agreement in Argentina
Fourteen opposition provinces finally reached this week a "fiscal agreement" with President De la Rúa administration, opening the way for a 20 billion US dollars "financial armoured plating" that should help Argentina leave behind a year of political and financial frustrations and look ahead to the coming twelve months with renewed optimism. Thirteen Peronist provinces and one independent, (plus the eight belonging to the ruling alliance) agreed to freeze expenditure at current level until 2005, with the only exception of a trigger "emergency clause", which authorises to suspend austerity when faced with a "serious situation". "Provinces are committed to a great effort in such a difficult situation, but when education, public health or security are at risk we can request from the federal government