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NBC, a universal and award-winning Uruguayan bank

Article - September 12, 2011
While NBC’s shareholders are international, its focus is highly personalized
Although Nuevo Banco Comercial (NBC) was formed just nine years ago, the bank has celebrated a great many milestones and many huge efforts and achievements have catapulted the bank into the limelight.

When the government of Uruguay founded NBC in 2002 by combining the highest-quality assets of three of the country’s largest banks, NBC’s management already had clear goals: on one hand, to reactivate and restructure the largest portfolio possible and on the other, to begin recovering the trust of the shareholders of the three liquidated banks. In the first nine months, NBC had already achieved its objectives, ending the term with US$8 million in profits.

By 2005, the bank had become so successful – among other things, it acquired the exclusive rights to issue American Express cards – that a consortium of investors entered into talks to acquire the government’s shares. NBC was privatized the following year and passed into the hands of Advent, Morgan Stanley, DEG (a German Development Agency), and FMO (Dutch Development Agency). 

The most recent groundbreaking structural change came at the end of 2010, when Scotiabank announced its intention to buy 100% of NBC’s shares. By now, NBC had become the fourth largest private bank in Uruguay’s loans and deposits market and the recognized leader in its strategic sectors of consumers, credit cards, and SMEs.

For NBC general manager Horacio Correge, Scotiabank’s interest is a twofold sign of encouragement. “It’s a double source of pride: not only has Scotiabank decided to invest in Uruguay, it’s chosen Banco Comercial,” he boasts. Representing the Canadian bank’s viewpoint, Dieter Jentsch, Scotiabank’s executive vice-president in Latin America, says: “Uruguay continues to impress us with its political stability and its economic fortunes.”

These “economic fortunes” would be none other than the country’s financial endurance throughout the recent global recession, which NBC was able to capitalize on in order to grow both its branch network (as well as extend their opening hours) and its portfolio. The bank’s accrued results for 2008 were US$22 billion, the highest within Uruguay’s private financial system. The year 2009 also witnessed plenty of investment, thus allowing NBC to not only consolidate its leadership in key sectors but also to maintain its proposed aggressive commercial growth strategy.

“Over the past three years we have grown considerably because the country’s economy has done well,” explains Mr. Correge. “At the same time we’ve been very focused on redesigning the management model and investing in technology. As for the coming three years, we expect to grow 10-15% per year.”

Three-time winner of Euromoney’s ‘Best Bank in Uruguay’ (2007-2009), NBC is a universal bank involved in all sectors and boasts the largest retail banking network of any Uruguayan bank. It maintains close relationships with its clients, and places a strong emphasis on family banking and solutions for SMEs.

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