Spanish-Swiss Strategic move in South America
In what sounds like a very smart move Zurich has taken a 51% stake in Santander’s South American insurance business. Latin America is one of the few regions that seems to have come out largely unimpacted from the financial meltdown and with the fastest growing number of high net worth individuals this region continues to grow at a pace. The investment by Zurich will give them access to Santander’s 5600+ branches and 36 million customers in Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Chile and Uruguay. Santander has been established in South America for over 25 years and has a dominant position in many of the markets, with HSBC and, to a much lesser extent, Citibank, the main global rivals. In return Santander frees up $1.2bn of much needed capital given the problems at home in Spain and the increased levels of capital required by regulation. This deal seems to make a lot of sense for both parties.