São Paulo may have retained its position as the leading financial centre in Latin America with regards to financial services activity, but the most impressive deal was pulled off in Mexico.

Latin America international finance centres

In the 12 months to this August, São Paulo attracted almost $260m of foreign direct investment (FDI) in the financial services sector, a 26% increase on the 12 months previous and by far the highest in the Latin America and Caribbean region. Of the 13 projects the Brazilian city attracted, the largest was Spain-based insurer Mapfre’s $100m investment to develop a centralised data-processing centre, which will serve the whole of Latin America and is the company's third such centre worldwide.

Mexico, however, recorded the largest FDI project in the region, again for a data-processing hub by another Spanish financial institution. Banking group BBVA invested an estimated $143m to open two data facilities in Mexico by the second half of 2014, which will process transactions completed in the US. The investment, however, could not be pinpointed to a specific city and, as a result, the only Mexican financial centre to appear in the capital investment ranking is Mexico City, with one project of an estimated value of $42m. This is to open a new branch of Brazil’s Itaú Unibanco in the city.

Bogotá, Colombia's capital city, is the second highest scoring financial centre in the capital investment ranking, attracting $71.7m in FDI projects. Overall, Colombia attracted the highest value of investment, with $342m across 11 deals, against Brazil’s $327m and 26 deals. Brazil’s other financial centre, Rio de Janeiro, received $36m for the five FDI projects based there, against the quiet previous 12 months which saw no deals at all.

The Peruvian capital city of Lima also scored well in third place, with $68m spent across two projects. Peru’s total was $203m across six FDI deals.

As for outgoing foreign direct investment, Bermuda’s Hamilton has recorded the highest level, with just under $200m and eight projects. This is, however, a substantial decrease from the data recorded for the previous period, which saw about $740m worth of investment and 17 projects. São Paulo and Grand Cayman follow with $148m and $97m, respectively.


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