Banco Nacional announced on Monday that 2011 is predicted to be a strong bet for credit positioning, despite the low growth shown during the previous twelve months. For the coming year, the state agency intends to place ¢850,000 million, nearly 10 times the figure given in 2010, which amounted to ¢88,300 million.

Last year, Banco Nacional (the largest bank in Costa Rica) only increased its portfolio by 5%, the lowest growth among the group of publicly owned banks, including Banco Popular, Bancrédito and Banco de Costa Rica, and credit which exceeded increases in double digits.

Housing and production. Fernando Naranjo, chief of Banco Nacional, explained that much of the credit (¢270,000 million) will go to the housing sector.

Almost 65% of this amount will be allocated to housing loans for families of low and middle income. The bank allocated ¢195,000 million to finance small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

“Adding everything, all the financial calculations of the bank, we are expecting a growth of 12% in the total credit available,” said Naranjo.

 

Makeover. On Monday, the new look of Banco Nacional was officially launched during the inauguration of the new branch in Lindora (Santa Ana, San José), an activity attended by the president, Laura Chinchilla.

“This change is an expression, but behind the logo change is a different approach: we want to focus on customer service,” said Naranjo.

The state agency will also invest in human resource development, improvements in technology platforms of the institution, and a renovation of physical facilities.

The estimated cost of the makeover is nearly $4 million, according to Banco Nacional.

The approval of branches and stationery will occur throughout 2011, and will include all subsidiaries of the financial group: BN Vital, BN Valores, BN Fondos and BN Corredora de Seguros (Vital BN, BN Securities, BN Brokerage, BN Funds and Insurance).

Difficult year. The manager of Banco Nacional also stated that 2010 was a difficult year for the banking sector and despite this, the institution managed to close with a positive.

Much of the credit growth responded to increased resources for SMEs. The agency estimated that this segment grew by 40% last year.