Best Bank − Panama: Banco General
General Still Commands
It has been over a year since Panama’s Banco General completed integration with Banco Comercial, creating a national champion with $7.2 billion in assets, 21% of the system’s private loans and 25% of local deposits. With HSBC still working to fully consolidate Banistmo, General still has a dominant position – for now. It is on this strength that the institution retains the title of LatinFinance Bank of the Year for Panama.
It will be a tougher market going ahead, and costs are
going to go up, says Raul Alemán, Generals
president and general manager. Like most banks in the region,
Panamas did not suffer subprime losses, but they are
exposed to the ensuing economic slump. Alemán says
the biggest negative impact has been on institutional lending,
although that only accounts for 12% of Generals
Profitability is rising, with ROA and ROE at 3.25% and 30.45%
as of mid-year, according to the banking regulator. This
compares to 2.4% and 19.3%, respectively, at the end of 2007.
To fend off competition from powerful immigrants like HSBC and
Citi, General must leverage a strong retail lending position
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