Best Bank − Colombia: Banco de Bogotá

Nov 1, 2008

Mighty Challenger The executive suite of Banco de Bogotá’s headquarters has one of the best views of Colombia’s capital. Alejandro Figueroa Jaramillo, the bank’s president, has just delivered first half performance figures to the board, which includes members of Grupo Aval, the majority owner of the bank and Colombia’s largest financial conglomerate. As he sits down for a rare interview – his aides say Figueroa does not speak to local press – he is interrupted by an urgent note from his assistant.

“It’s the finance minister on the phone, excuse me,” says Figueroa, getting up. While he does not reveal the nature of the conversation, it is evident Banco de Bogotá, along with the rest of the country’s financial system, is racing to adjust to a relentless selloff in LatAm indices, currencies and fixed income assets that took hold in late September.

Within four hours of the call, Colombia’s central bank announces it will stop intervening in the FX market to ease the pressure on the peso. It joins monetary authorities in several other LatAm countries including Brazil, Argentina and Peru in responding to the panic selling walloping local assets and threatening to undermine otherwise stable fundamentals.

It is within this context that...

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