Winner: Banco Cuscatlan
Multicultural lender reaps financial reward
Banco Cuscatlan has emerged from the pandemic as El Salvador’s second biggest lender,
following more than a decade of metamorphosis during which it changed owner twice.
The lender is the winner of the LatinFinance award for Bank of the year – El Salvador thanks
to a solid financial performance and growing market position.
The once state-owned Cuscatlan was acquired by Citibank in 2007 from Corporation UBC
Internacional. Then, in 2016, Imperia Continental, a Central American financial conglomerate
of Honduran origins, bought the bank and later merged it with the local operations of
Scotiabank, which it acquired in 2019.
Cuscatlan is now the country’s second largest bank by assets and its number one mortgage
lender. It is also more profitable than it was prior to the pre-pandemic merger.
CEO Eduardo Luna tells LatinFinance that the bank expects to post a 33% increase in net
income this year and is looking forward to a promising 2023.
The bank accumulated significant loan reserves for 2021, expecting the portfolio to be worse
affected by the pandemic; but portfolios fared better than expected and loan losses this year are
lower than they were during 2019, Luna says.
Cuscatlan has managed to mix the corporate cultures of Citibank and Scotiabank quickly and
without losing customers, he says. “That, by itself, is a huge success story. Usually when you
have a merger of this magnitude, you lose customers, you lose market share, you lose
something along the way. But we managed to maintain and improve the best products that
Citibank had and the best products that Scotiabank had, and then we became Cuscatlan,”
Cuscatlan has inherited Scotia’s strength in mortgages, and Citibank’s strength in credit cards,
he says. Digital transformation is the bank’s current priority, and this year it launched its first