Santander Mexico Focused on Mortgages, Small-Business Lending

March 23 (Bloomberg) -- Banco Santander SA’s Mexican unit is focusing on mortgages and loans to small and medium-sized businesses as this year’s biggest growth opportunities, Chief Executive Officer Marcos Martinez said.

Santander is looking to repeat the 20 percent growth in its total Mexican loan portfolio in 2011, Martinez said in an interview after participating in a Bloomberg CEO Roundtable discussion in Mexico City today.

Santander’s loans to small and medium-sized businesses expanded 40 percent during 2011 and are on pace to repeat this performance in 2012, he said. Mexico’s third-largest bank by outstanding loans provides about 30 percent of mortgages that are more than 300,000 pesos ($23,500), he said.

“In these two sectors, the bank and the country have special interests,” Martinez said. “From the commercial bank’s point of view, it’s what most strengthens your brand and where there are the biggest opportunities for growth.”

Santander had about 310 billion pesos in total loans outstanding as of January, according to data from the National Banking and Securities Commission. It was second behind the local units of Spain’s Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA in terms of loans to businesses and homeowners, according to the commission.

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