• Operator has already purchased stakes in Chile, Mexico bourses
  • BM&FBovespa has said it wants to help regional intregration

BM&FBovespa SA, the operator of Latin America’s biggest securities exchange, became the top shareholder of the Bolsa de Valores de Colombia as it expands its relationship with regional bourses.

The Sao Paulo-based company bought 9.99 percent of the operator of the Colombian exchange for 44 million reais ($13 million), according to a regulatory filing. Shares in the Bogota-based exchange rallied as much as 21 percent, the most since 2007, before the purchase was announced Wednesday. BM&FBovespa said it will continue to evaluate investment opportunities in the region.

The bourse has said it wants to play a role in the financial integration of Latin America, and it has already purchased minority stakes in Chile’s Bolsa de Comercio de Santiago and Mexico’s Bolsa Mexicana de Valores SAB. Minority stakes could open the door to board seats, help BM&F Bovespa get closer to more of the region’s investors and eventually allow it to distribute products through new channels.

“Our plan is to continue buying minority stakes in other Latin American exchanges as we’ve done lately," Edemir Pinto, BM&FBovespa’s Chief Executive Officer, said in an interview on June 23.

Colombian law caps ownership by a single shareholder at 10 percent of the bourse’s shares, meaning the BM&FBovespa has practically reached the limit of what it can acquire, according to the BVC. Before the purchase, Chile’s Bancard was the top shareholder with a 9.94 percent stake as of July 1, according to data published on the BVC’s website.

The bourse in April announced the acquisition of Cetip SA, a Brazilian clearinghouse, in a deal that will extend BM&FBovespa’s dominance over financial markets in the country at a time when the nation’s stock trading volume has fallen amid the worst recession in a century.

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