Colombia’s financial-services group Grupo de Inversiones Suramericana (GRUPOSURA) wants to keep expanding in Latin America and the Caribbean for the time being, including through the acquisition of assets that troubled European banks could be shedding in the region, a top executive said Saturday.
Expansion through acquisitions has become a trademark of Grupo Sura, a Medellin, Colombia-based company that in February said its Bancolombia unit would pay $2.1 billion for HSBC Holdings PLC’s assets in Panama.
“We like Central America”, said Sura’s CEO David Bojanini Garcia in an interview on the sidelines of the MIT Latin America Conference here. Even after recent acquisitions, “still there is a long way to go” for Sura in Latin America, he said.
One notable exception is Brazil. The largest economy in the region “is a great country”, Mr. Garcia said, but Sura would only enter by buying “a leading company, which would be too expensive for us.” With a different language and culture, Brazil also seems “a lot of work” for Sura, which would rather expand in Spanish Americas and the Caribbean, he said. “We like the Dominican Republic.”
Mr. Garcia also mentioned Mexico, Chile, Peru and Uruguay as countries on Sura’s radar.
“We already have some targets,” he said, without giving details. “We are continuously talking to shareholders.”
Mr. Garcia said his company tries to acquire firms in politically and socially stable countries where the economy is growing and an emerging middle class ensures demand for Sura’s pension funds, insurance and bank business. Its targets are also well-managed firms that are “performing well,” he said.
Sura plans to keep on funding its expansion by issuing equity and debt as needed, Mr. Garcia said. He thinks a combination of strong local currency and low interest rates in Colombia is “very favorable for acquisitions,” although having business in various countries and different currencies is “very complicated…Not easy to hedge.”