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Bank of America has agreed to buy a 24.9% stake in

  • Mexico ‘s third largest financial group Santander Serfin from Spain ‘s BSCH for US$1.6bn in cash.

    The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2003, pending Mexican regulatory approval, and increase Bank of America’s 2003 earnings by about US$0.04 a share, the US bank says. BSCH will continue to manage the group.

    Bank of America’s foray into Mexico comes a year and a half after Citigroup bought the country’s largest financial group Banacci for US$12.5bn.

    At the end of September, Santander Serfin had a 15% market share, US$25bn assets, US$13bn deposits, 900 branches and 1,700 ATMs. The book value of Santander Serfin’s investment in Mexico before the deal was US$2.2bn.

    The incorporation of Bank of America as a Santander Serfin shareholder will allow BSCH to better tap increasing trade between the US and Mexico driven by the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta).