Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Scotiabank Mexico Loan Growth May Quicken in 2007

Bloomberg, Adriana Arai, 19 September 2006

Bank of Nova Scotia, Canada's third-largest bank, may speed up lending growth in Mexico next year because of growing demand for mortgages, said Anatol von Hahn, chief executive of the bank's Mexican unit.

Von Hahn said lending growth will be above 20 percent this year and next. He declined to provide more specifics.

"We'll grow next year at the same pace as this year or even slightly more,'' von Hahn said at a press conference in Mexico City today.

Demand for credit will keep rising next year even as Mexico's economy, the second biggest in Latin America, slows next year, he said. Scotiabank said today it will begin offering Mexican mortgages with no down payment, targeting young couples that have full-time jobs, yet haven't managed to save much.

About 9.9 million Mexicans are between 20 and 24 while half the 103 million population is under 25, Scotiabank said.

Economic growth in Mexico will slow to about 3.5 percent in 2007 from about 4.5 percent this year as the expansion in the U.S., which buys about 80 percent of Mexican exports, will ease, Finance Minister Francisco Gil Diaz said in an interview today.

Scotiabank's new mortgage product, the first with no down payment in Mexico, will be covered by insurance provided by Genworth Financial Inc. Scotiabank expects to provide $300 million of mortgage with no down payment during the next 12 months, said Ricardo Garcia Conde, head of mortgages at Scotiabank.

Mexico's congress passed legislation earlier this year that allows for mortgage insurance for the first time.

Scotiabank, which runs Mexico's sixth-biggest bank, expects the new mortgage product will help it keep its market share of about 20 percent in a market that has been growing at annual rates in excess of 80 percent for almost a year, Garcia Conde said. Mortgage lending grew 82 percent in July from a year earlier to 178 billion pesos ($16.2 billion), according to the Mexican central bank.

Grupo Financiero Scotiabank Inverlat SA, as the Mexican unit is called, is the nation's second-biggest mortgage lender after Grupo Financiero Banorte SA.

Scotiabank's 20-year mortgage rates range from 10.25 percent to 12 percent. The bank says those rates are the lowest in the Mexican market. The mortgage insurance costs 0.1 percent of the value of the loan monthly.

(Reuters) Scotiabank's Mexico unit, the country's sixth-largest bank, expects to speed up growth in its credit portfolio, bolstered by strong demand for business and business loans.

Scotiabank executives said on Tuesday they now believe its credit portfolio will grow faster than the 20 percent they had predicted for this year and next.

They said mortgage loans were leading the way with growth of more than 40 percent.

Housing loans are a small but rapidly growing market in Mexico and Scotiabank has about 20 percent of the market among commercial banks by offering new products like loans with no down-payment needed.

The bank is the local arm of Canada's Bank of Nova Scotia and it holds around 7 per cent of bank credit in Mexico. The market is dominated by the local units of Spain's BBVA and Citigroup of the United States.

Mexico's banking association has twice raised its credit growth estimates for this year, to 30 percent from 20 percent initially.