Winner: Banco Mercantil Santa Cruz
Exceptional financial performance emerging from the pandemic secures the
Banco Mercantil Santa Cruz (BMSC) is on a tear. The country’s largest privately-held bank
increased net profit by 140% to 48.1 million bolivianos ($6.9 million) in the first half of this
year compared to the same period in 2021.
That followed a 72% increase in net income in 2021. Its stellar financial performance wins
BMSC the Bank of the Year award for Bolivia.
BMSC, Bolivia’s leading lender, increased its loan portfolio by some $26 million in the year to
June 30, compared to 2021, while deposits totaled $4.3 billion by the end of the second
According to a June report from Moody’s, 87% of BMSC’s loan portfolio is backed by
mortgage-related guarantees, compared to the 60% average for the local banking system. Nonperforming loans accounted for 2.5% of the total portfolio, it said.
BMSC has access to funding from local pension and investment funds and enjoys the backing
of the Grupo Mercantil Santa Cruz conglomerate. This group also owns brokerage, insurance
and fund management businesses, and has investments in hotels, retail and real estate. In
March, it acquired a majority stake in Acurio Restaurantes, the international restaurant group
founded by renowned Peruvian chef Gastón Acurio, from US investment firm Colony Capital.
Bolivia’s economy grew 6.1% in 2021 after an 8.7% contraction in 2020, reflecting a slow
recovery relative to regional peers amid weak public investment. Real GDP growth is forecast
to slow to 3.6% in 2022 and 2.5% in coming years, due to lower public investment and the
lack of a clear plan to lift low private investment, according to Fitch.
Moody’s gives Bolivia a B2 rating, four steps below investment grade, while S&P Global
Ratings rates it a step higher at B+ and Fitch Ratings gives it a B.