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Corpbanca Surges Most in a Year on Santander Colombia Buy

Corpbanca climbed the most in a year in Santiago trading on prospects that its purchase of Banco Santander SA’s Colombian unit will drive profit growth.

Corpbanca agreed to pay $1.16 billion for 95 percent of Banco Santander Colombia SA, becoming the first Chilean financial services company to own a foreign bank, according to a statement distributed late yesterday. Colombia probably will expand 5 percent next year, matching Peru for the fastest growth among major Latin American economies, according to the medium estimate of economists surveyed by Bloomberg.

“By all means this is positive for the bank and is moving the stock because it’s expanding to a country that’s growing a lot,” Hernan Campos, head of research at WAC Inversiones, said by telephone today from Santiago.

Corpbanca gained 3.7 percent to 6.87 pesos at 1:42 p.m. local time and earlier rose 8.7 percent, the steepest intraday gain since September 2010.

Controlled by entrepreneur Alvaro Saieh, Corpbanca plans to sell $450 million in new shares to help fund the purchase, which is subject to regulatory approval in Chile and Colombia and is expected to close in the first half of 2012.

The acquisition may boost Corpbanca’s profit by 10 percent to 15 percent and generate growth opportunities, Santiago-based brokerage Larrain Vial SA wrote in an e-mailed note to clients.

‘Attractive’ Banking

“With this acquisition, Corpbanca aims at supporting Chilean companies in their expansion through Latin America and participating in the growing Colombian banking industry, one of the most attractive worldwide,” the bank said in the statement.

Santander Colombia’s lending portfolio totaled $2.57 billion as of Sept. 20, representing 2.7 percent of the banking system’s outstanding loans.

Corp Group Interhold, through which Saieh controls Corpbanca and other financial companies, will also buy at least a 2.85 percent stake of Santander Colombia, under the agreement.

Separately, Santo Domingo Group, a Colombian holding company, will invest $100 million in Corpbanca to help the company “execute its growth strategy,” the statement said.

Foreign acquisitions of Colombian banks, including Bank of Nova Scotia’s $1 billion purchase of Colpatria in October, are a sign of Colombia’s strengthening financial sector, said Alejandro Santo Domingo. He took over as the Santo Domingo Group’s head after his father Julio Mario Santo Domingo, a SABMiller Plc stakeholder who was ranked the world’s 108th richest billionaire by Forbes, died in October.

New Competitors

“Colombia has financial regulation that has given the sector order, security and strength, and it has some sophisticated and professional players with whom there is an important challenge for new banking competitors,” Alejandro Santo Domingo said in an e-mailed statement today.

Banco de Credito del Peru, the Andean country’s biggest bank, agreed to buy 51 percent of Colombian financial services firm Correval SA in a deal announced Dec. 1.

Santander, the euro zone’s biggest bank by market value, is offloading Latin American assets to plug a 5.22 billion-euro ($7 billion) capital shortfall identified by the European Banking Authority. The Spanish lender raised $958 million today by selling shares in its Chilean unit after announcing sales of stakes in its Brazilian bank and regional insurance business.

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