Although Brazil's largest four banks remain well clear of the pack in Latin America, there were promising developments in Colombia, Mexico and Venezuela in 2012.

Top 25: Latin America; Highest movers: Latin America; Top five ROC: Latin America; New entrants: Latin America

Brazilian banks continue to dominate in Latin America, with Banco do Brasil topping the region's rankings with $36.3bn in Tier 1 capital, followed closely by compatriots Itaú Unibanco and Banco Bradesco, with Caixa Economica Federal a distant fourth with a Tier 1 capital of $13.76bn.

Bancolombia sits in fifth place with $5.12bn in Tier 1 capital. Though the gap between the Colombian lender and the Brazilian giants is large, Bancolombia is the second highest mover in the region, having expanded its Tier 1 capital by 42.52% over the past financial year. The bank surpassed rival Banco de Bogotá, which now sits in seventh place regionally with a Tier 1 capital of $4.66bn. Banco de Bogotá was fifth in 2012’s regional table and was Latin America’s highest mover.

Mexico’s Banco Azteca sits at the top of the highest movers table this year, with its Tier 1 capital almost 60% larger than last year, while Chile’s Corpbanca is in third place, after having completed the acquisition of Santander’s Colombian operations in 2012 – the Santiago-based lender also bought both another Colombian bank, Helm Banca, at the end of 2012.

In Mexico, the two leading banks – Banco Inbursa and Grupo Financiero Banorte – increased their Tier 1 capital levels to the point where only a small gap separates them. Inbursa’s capital expansion stopped at $3.58bn while Banorte’s stretched to just under $3.59bn.

Three Venezuelan banks are present in the bottom half of the regional table: Banesco Banco Universal, Banco de Venezuela and Mercantil Servicios Financieros, with Tier 1 capital of $2.25bn, $2.2bn and $2.09bn, respectively. When it comes to return on capital (ROC), however, Venezuelan lenders really soar. Banco de Venezuela’s astonishing 59.99% ROC ratio and Banesco’s equally jaw-dropping 53.92% placed both banks among the top five in Latin America. Peru’s Banco de la Nacion generated the highest returns in the region, with an even higher 62.38%


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