Promerica Negotiates to Buy Control of Ecuador Lender Produbanco

Promerica Financial Corp., the operator of Nicaragua’s biggest bank, said it’s negotiating to acquire control of Ecuador’s third-largest publicly traded lender, Banco de la Produccion SA.

Promerica said in a statement today it’s seeking approval from Ecuador’s antitrust regulator to buy a majority stake in the Quito-based bank. Closely held Promerica already owns a lender in Ecuador and has operations in Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala and Panama.

The deal would be the first sale of an Ecuadorean bank to foreign investors since President Rafael Correa tightened regulations to force local lenders to divest noncore units in 2012 and raised taxes this year on banks to help fund government anti-poverty programs. Nongovernmental banks’ net profit through November was 21 percent lower than in the same period of 2012, according to the most recent data from Ecuador’s bank superintendency, known as SBS.

“It’s a magnificent opportunity to continue investing in Ecuador,” Francisco Martinez, executive director at Promerica, said in the statement. “We’re very optimistic about this decision.”

Net profit at Banco de la Produccion, also known as Produbanco, for the first 11 months is down 21 percent from a year earlier to $24.4 million, according to SBS. The bank’s shares have fallen 14 percent this year to $1, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Produbanco officials didn’t immediately respond to a telephone message seeking comment.

To contact the reporter on this story: Nathan Gill in Quito at ngill4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Bradley Keoun at bkeoun@bloomberg.net

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