Banesco assesses add-on acquisitions in US market

Banesco assesses add-on acquisitions in US market

M&A United States Venezuela Structured Finance

Banesco USA, a Miami-based bank with the same shareholders as Venezuela's Banesco, is looking for possible add-on acquisitions to complement organic growth in coming years, CEO Calixto García-Vélez told LatinFinance.

"If the right deal comes our way, we're going to take advantage of it," García-Vélez said in an interview on Friday. "If we found a bank that had similar strengths to ours, that would be great. If we found a bank that helped in those areas where we are not as strong... or if we found a bank with synergies on the international side and commercial real estate, that could be interesting as well."

The bank prefers to pursue acquisitions in Florida and Puerto Rico, where it already operates branches and sees plenty of room for organic growth, he said.

Banesco USA has a "good chunk" of its portfolio in international business, including Latin American companies with dollar-denominated accounts in the US market, and it is active in commercial real estate and trade finance, García-Vélez said. It also has a correspondent bank with partners in Latin America and last month joined the Zelle digital payments network, he added.

"Very few banks, particularly US-based banks, have the appetite for doing business in the international marketplace," he said, adding that foreign receivables are a "stop sign" for many US lenders but not a barrier for Banesco USA.

García-Vélez was appointed CEO of Banesco USA on October 12 with the mandate to "grow, grow, grow," he said. He previously managed the Florida division of US lender First BanCorp for 12 years. He was also CEO of Doral Bank in Puerto Rico from 2006 to 2008. 

Banesco USA had $2.05 billion in assets at the end of the first half this year and raised $15 million in a private placement to fund its growth plans in December last year.