The 10 biggest Latin American Banks

The largest banks in Latin America are predominantly located in three countries: Brazil, Mexico, and Chile. Brazil boasts five of the top institutions by asset size, while Mexico and Chile each have one. Below are some key details about these financial institutions, including their total assets and a brief history, based on rankings from an April 2023 report by S&P Global:

1. Itaú Unibanco Holding SA, Country: Brazil, Assets: $439.50 billion

Itaú Unibanco Holding SA, headquartered in Brazil, stands as one of the country’s largest private-sector banks, boasting assets totaling $439.50 billion. Its origins trace back to the mid-1920s when João Moreira Salles commenced coffee sales through Casa Moreira Salles. While the bank’s name and logo were established in 1973, its operations have evolved from catering primarily to coffee growers to serving the general public. Presently, Itaú operates with over 90,000 employees and serves 60 million customers in Brazil. Additionally, it extends its services internationally, maintaining a presence in 17 countries across retail, corporate, and investment banking sectors. Itaú also offers support for mergers and acquisitions (M&A) activities.

2. Banco do Brasil SA, Country: Brazil, Assets: $379.78 billion

Banco do Brasil SA, situated in Brazil, ranks as the second-largest bank in the region, with assets totaling $379.78 billion. This government-controlled institution is headquartered in Brasília. It holds the distinction of being one of the world’s oldest banks, tracing its roots back to its establishment in 1808 as one of Brazil’s pioneering financial institutions. With a workforce of nearly 86,000 individuals as of June 2023, Banco do Brasil maintains a widespread presence, encompassing branches, offices, and subsidiaries in over 20 different countries.

3. Banco Bradesco SA, Country: Brazil, Assets: $340.41 billion

Banco Bradesco SA, located in Brazil, holds assets worth $340.41 billion. Established in 1943 under the name Banco Brasileiro de Descontos, its initial focus was on attracting small business owners, government workers, and individuals with modest possessions, diverging from the typical pursuit of big landowners by other Brazilian banks at that time. Banco Bradesco was also among the pioneering banks in Brazil to advocate for the use of checks in its branches.

Headquartered in São Paulo, Banco Bradesco caters to a vast clientele comprising more than 77 million retail and corporate banking customers. The bank operates through 2,864 branches and employs just over 88,000 individuals. In addition to its core banking products, Banco Bradesco provides insurance services and retirement plans, diversifying its offerings to meet the diverse financial needs of its customer base.

  1. Caixa Econômica Federal, Country: Brazil, Assets: $300.63 billion

Caixa Econômica Federal, based in Brazil, possesses assets totaling $300.63 billion. Founded in 1861, Caixa operates as a private government entity closely associated with the Brazilian Ministry of Finance. The bank assumes pivotal roles in executing income transfer programs and implementing national housing policies. Additionally, it oversees the management of the country’s primary lottery programs, further solidifying its importance in various aspects of Brazil’s financial landscape and social welfare initiatives.

5. Banco Santander (Brasil) SA, Country: Brazil, Assets: $186.41 billion

Banco Santander (Brasil) SA, situated in Brazil, possesses assets valued at $186.41 billion. Established in 1857, it operates as part of a larger European financial institution headquartered in Spain. While Santander’s primary geographic focus includes Europe, North America, and South America, it also emphasizes its digital banking services for consumers.

Santander entered the Brazilian market in 1957 and inaugurated its first bank branch in Brazil in 1982. Its Brazilian operations currently employ 58,505 individuals across 2,772 branches as of the first quarter of 2023, serving a total of 63.3 million customers in Brazil. This constitutes a significant portion of Santander’s presence in South America, where it also extends its operations to countries such as Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Colombia, and Peru.

  1. Grupo Financiero BBVA México SA de CV, Country: Mexico, Assets: $158.31 billion

Grupo Financiero BBVA México SA de CV, located in Mexico, boasts assets worth $158.31 billion. Operating as Mexico’s largest bank by assets, it operates under the subsidiary Bancomer of the Spanish company BBVA. Established in 1932 in Mexico City under the name Banco de Comercio, the bank experienced nationalization by the Mexican government in 1982.

Grupo Financiero BBVA México’s revenue stream encompasses a range of financial services, including retail banking operations, stock brokerage services, insurance, and mutual fund management. As of June 2023, the group operates 1,736 bank locations and maintains a network of 14,232 automated teller machines (ATMs) throughout the country, providing extensive accessibility to its services for customers across Mexico.

  1. Grupo Financiero Banorte SAB de CV, Country: Mexico, Assets: $106.12 billion

Grupo Financiero Banorte SAB de CV, located in Mexico, possesses assets totaling $106.12 billion. The bank, known as Banorte, capitalized on opportunities arising from the Mexican financial crisis in the 1990s by acquiring multiple banks and expanding its footprint across the country. Officially operating under the name Grupo Financiero Banorte, the institution provides a diverse range of financial services, including retail banking products, investment services, annuity and insurance products, retirement funds, and warehousing capabilities. This strategic expansion and comprehensive service offerings have contributed to Banorte’s significant presence and influence within Mexico’s financial sector.

  1. Banco de Crédito e Inversiones, Country: Chile, Assets: $98.10 billion

Banco de Crédito e Inversiones, located in Chile, holds assets amounting to $98.10 billion. Established in 1937, the bank is managed by the Yarur family, now in its third generation, who own a majority stake of 63.56%.

Originally founded to support small and medium enterprises, Banco de Crédito e Inversiones has diversified its services over the years. It now provides a range of retail and commercial banking services, including investment banking, private banking, and brokerage/money management services catering to institutional investors and high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs). Additionally, the bank owns the City National Bank of Florida.

Headquartered in Santiago, as of December 31, 2022, Banco de Crédito e Inversiones operated 197 branches and employed 11,514 individuals in Chile. Beyond Chile and the U.S., the bank also maintains a presence in Peru, Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, and China, underscoring its international reach and significance within the Latin American banking landscape.

  1. Banco Santander Mexico SA Institución de Banca Múltiple Grupo Financiero Santander Mexico, Country: Mexico, Assets: $92.97 billion

Banco Santander Mexico SA Institución de Banca Múltiple Grupo Financiero Santander Mexico, located in Mexico, boasts assets totaling $92.97 billion. As a division of Spain-headquartered Santander, the bank offers a comprehensive array of consumer products, including mortgages, credit cards, and personal loans, catering to individual customers.

Moreover, Santander Mexico extends its services to business clients, providing a range of offerings such as pension planning, financing solutions, and foreign trade services. This broad suite of services underscores Santander Mexico’s commitment to meeting the diverse financial needs of both individual and corporate customers in the Mexican market.

  1. Banco Santander Chile, Country: Chile, Assets: 85.74 billion

Banco Santander Chile, established in 1978, initially focused primarily on foreign trade. Over the years, it underwent significant expansions, acquiring Banco Español Chile in 1982 and merging with Banco Osorno y la Unión in 1996. These moves solidified its position as one of the largest banks in Chile.

The bank offers a comprehensive range of commercial and retail banking services, including loans in both Chilean pesos and foreign currency to support various commercial transactions, commerce, forward contracts, and lines of credit in foreign currency. Additionally, Banco Santander Chile provides financial leasing, financial advisory services, investment fund management, securities, insurance, and investment brokerage.

As of March 31, 2023, Banco Santander Chile operated 259 branches and employed 9,928 individuals in Chile. It serves a total of 3.7 million customers, highlighting its significant presence and impact within the Chilean banking sector.

Shopping Cart
Scroll to Top
Send this to a friend