Regulators in Panama have approved the bank’s entry into the country to open retail branches. The bank currently operates in a limited capacity for international and institutional transactions.
Bancolumbia president Carlos Raul Yepes Jiminez also revealed that the bank would also like to expand into Peru and Chile. While the entry into Panama could act as a staging point to other countries in Central America, Peru and Chile would be a natural progression of the recent integration in capital markets.
Though many international banks have expressed expansion plans in the region, the degree of control by domestic banks makes it difficult for new entrants. For example, two of Peru’s banks control 60% of market share while the top four control 80% of the market.
The board did approve a 5.8% increase in dividends but warned that credit growth in Colombia would slow to between 15%-20% from 27% last year as the central bank’s restrictive monetary policy starts to take effect.