Santander's Tactical Success

Nov 1, 2002

An effective mix of aggressive marketing, higher-margin products and a rigorous pursuit of efficiency has enabled Mexico's Grupo Santander-Serfin to post some impressive results and set it apart from its two much larger competitors, BBVA Bancomer and Citigroup's Banamex, which dominate Mexico's banking market. Santander-Serfin, the result of the current merger of Santander Mexicano and Banca Serfin, combines impressive profitability with a robust balance sheet, a notable achievement for a Mexican bank. Although it is only the country's third-largest bank in terms of assets, with a 16% market share, it earned $524 million, or 22.2% of the financial system's net income last year. In contrast, BBVA Bancomer, the country's largest bank with a 26% market share, earned about the same profits as Santander. The bank's 34% return on equity in the first half of this year far exceeded that of its peers. Non-performing loans represent a...

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