30 October 2008

Chile's Banco Santander Says High Inflation Slows Loan Growth

By Nathan Gill
     Oct. 30 (Bloomberg) -- Banco Santander Chile, the country's
biggest lender, said consumer lending has slowed as higher
inflation hurt lower-income customers.
     Raimundo Monge, corporate director of strategy and financial
planning at the bank, said the company will compensate for
falling revenue from personal lending by focusing on more
affluent consumers as well as local corporations.
     ``We are seeing a deceleration of loan growth, especially in
consumer spending,'' Monge said today in a conference call from
Santiago. The company does not expect ``a big deceleration
because corporate lending has been picking up lately and that
trend can be sustained,'' he said.
     Chile's 9.2 percent annual inflation rate in September was
more than three times that of two years earlier. Monge said
inflation should lower in the months to come.
     The company's third-quarter profit rose 13 percent to 96
billion pesos ($145 million) from the same period a year earlier,
the company said yesterday in a statement.
     The bank is a subsidiary of Madrid-based Banco Santander SA.