Santander Central Hispano may close its Patagon unit in one or more Latin American countries to stem losses after investing more than $750 million in the online portal, according to a Bloomberg report.
The Spanish bank may shut offices in Latin America, though there are no plans to close Patagon units in Germany or Spain, a bank official told the wire.
Ignacio Martin, a fund manager at Espirito Santo Gestion, describes the speculation as "positive news". He told Bloomberg: "After what happened in Argentina, the bank is trying to trim its risk in Latin America and boost investments in Europe."
Santander purchased a 75% stake in the Latin American financial services portal in 2000 for approximately $529 million, after buying out investors Chase Capital, JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs. The bank has since invested $250 million in the portal and has gone on to launch sites in the United States, Spain and Germany.
Santander's 2001 net income of EUR2486 million rose a mere 10.1 % on the previous year. Patagon has yet to make a profit for the bank, and reportedly lost $120 million last year.