Spanish version

ECONOMY

Banistmo plans expansion

Its parent company, Bancolombia, said it will spend $100 million on new headquarters and technological upgrades.

Spanish version

Bancolombia plans to invest $100 million in its Panama subsidiary, Banistmo, this year.

The money will be used for a new corporate headquarters and hub in Central America in Soho, located in the banking area, real estate development and technology.

Bancolombia President Carlos Raúl Yepes made the comments from New York, where he is scheduled to ring the opening bell at the Mew York Stock Exchange to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the company being listed on the market.

The investment comes two years after closing the acquisition of the operations of HSBC Panama for $2.2 billion. Yepes said that acquisition made Bancolombia the main financial group in Central America, with assets of $15 billion.

Banistmo closed 2014 with $8.317 billion in assets, a slight increase from the end of 2013 when it closed with just over $8 billion. That is still lower than the $9.63 billion in assets the bank reported at the end of 2012.

Revenues fell slightly in 2014, but net income increased from $20.1 million in 2013 to $76.8 million last year. Yepes said that the results obtained by the bank were better than expected and are a result of a consolidation of services.

Bancolombia, which has a presence in 10 countries in Latin America, closed 2014 with an increase in assets of 13.7 percent compared to the previous year, reflecting an appetite for credit in the region despite the slowdown of the economies. In this regard, Yepes said that there are certain difficulties in some countries in the region, but that there are countries such as Panama and Colombia with solid growth.

"There are difficulties, but there are also opportunities," he said.

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