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The Colombian unit of Ecuador's largest bank, Banco Pichincha, will launch banking operations on Tuesday (June 7) with the aim of lending some US$35mn a month in its first year as a full-fledged bank in Colombia, the unit's chairman, Eduardo Fernández-Salvador, told BNamericas.
"Today, we have some 195,000 customers and we expect to increase that number to 250,000 at the end of our first year of operations," he said.
The Ecuadorian bank has operated for more than 45 years in Colombia through finance company Inversora Pichincha, which mainly focuses on consumer loans.
Turning the finance company into Banco Pichincha Colombia will require investing US$20mn in IT systems and opening 16 new branches to reach 40 by end-2011, as well as increasing the company's headcount to more than 1,000 employees, the executive said.
In the first stage, the bank will focus on the consumer and SME segments, as well as on government companies, through its institutional banking unit, Fernández-Salvador said.
Later, Banco Pichincha will create a corporate banking division to service private sector corporations, he said.
Inversora Pichincha had 1.2tn pesos (US$673mn) in assets and 191bn pesos in equity as of March 31, according to a company press release.
Banco Pichincha's overseas business includes banking units in Panama, Peru and Spain, and an agency in Miami.
The full interview with Fernández-Salvador will be published in this week's Banking Perspectives, for subscribers only.