May 2, 2008
In September 2006, HSBC bought Panamas Banistmo, giving it access to new retail banking markets in Central America and instantly making it the biggest bank in the country. Not to be outdone, a merger between indigenous lenders Banco General and Banco Comercial crowned a new Panamanian leader. Those transactions followed Citi and Scotias entrances into Guatemala. Meanwhile, Guatemalas Banco Industrial swallowed compatriots Banco Occidente and Banco Quetzal, as well as Banco del Pais in neighboring Honduras. Industrial is now looking to conquer southern Mexico.There has been a significant movement in the last 18-24 months to increase integration among the different econ
Led by Panama and propelled by trade agreements, Central America seeks to extend growth. With stronger links to the US and Europe, it must decide how far to integrate.
by Ben Miller