Bank of the Year 2018 -- Dominican Republic: Banco Popular

Bank of the Year 2018 -- Dominican Republic: Banco Popular

During a cocktail party at a tourism trade fair in Paris in September, Joel Santos, head of the Asonahores, the Dominican Republic’s national hotel and restaurant association, referred to Banco Popular Dominicano as the “tourism bank” and trumpeted the bank as a “pioneer” in supporting the crucial sector.

The Dominican Republic ranks as the top tourist destination in the Caribbean and fifth in the Americas with more than 6 million visitors per year. Banco Popular provided $350 million in new loans to the tourism industry in 2017 and compiled a portfolio worth around $800 million by the end of last year, according to its latest annual report. Now Banco Popular accounts for a hefty 55.6% of local loans to the sector.

But tourism is just part of the story. According to Fitch Ratings, which gives Banco Popular a AA+ rating on the local scale, the bank has positioned itself as the largest privately owned bank with the widest presence in the Dominican Republic. Feller Rate, which also gives Banco Popular a AA+ rating, considers Banco Popular the largest mortgage lender, the second largest commercial lender and the second largest consumer lender in the Dominican Republic.

Banco Popular built a loan book of 245 billion pesos ($4.98 billion) by the end of 2017, up from 213 billion pesos at the end of 2016. It provided 52 billion pesos in financing to more than 950 exporters and granted 4.83 billion pesos in car loans through its Autoferia Popular auto show. It also supplied 4.08 billion pesos in commercial loans, with more than 53,000 small and medium-sized enterprises as clients.

“Banco Popular maintains a very strong business profile, resulting from its business diversification and consolidated presence in the Dominican market,” Feller Rate indicated in an October report. Feller Rate also said that Banco Popular’s sensible credit management will allow it to post continued profits over the long term, even in an increasingly competitive market. LF