Hunting for Champions

Oct 1, 2005

LatinFinance picked over 20 banks across Latin America and the Caribbean as the very best in the business. This is how we chose the winners.

The most important quality we look for in selecting the region's best banks is success in generating value for shareholders.

We selected Bancolombia, Colombia's biggest bank, as LatinFinance's Bank of the Year for 2005, because of its remarkable progress in driving profits and margins upward in a competitive market. Furthermore, its owner, Medellín-based conglomerate Grupo Empresarial Antioqueño, had the strategic vision to consolidate its financial arm – previously consisting of separate businesses – into a single group led by Bancolombia and its CEO Jorge Londoño. Bancolombia has taken the lead in the inexorable march toward consolidation in Colombia's traditionally fragmented banking industry – a market once dominated by its rival Grupo Aval. It still has four separate banks, which it essentially runs as separate operations.

Colombia matters because it is one of the few major banking markets left in Latin America where local groups...

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“The crisis has been a setback for reserve diversification."

Jan Dehn, Ashmore Investment Management