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Citigroup's Latin Love

The financial giant will buy Central America's Grupo Cuscatlan for $1.51 billion.
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, stepping up efforts to expand in Latin America, will buy banking and financial services provider Grupo Cuscatlan for $1.51 billion in cash and stock.

Grupo Cuscatlan, with operations in El Salvador, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Honduras and Panama, has roughly $5.4 billion in assets. The company offers commercial and corporate banking products and has a growing consumer banking business, Citigroup said.

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The purchase comes after Citi recently agreed to buy Grupo Financiero Uno, Central America's largest credit card provider.

"The acquisition of Grupo Cuscatlan is another significant step in expanding Citigroup's businesses in Latin America," said Charles Prince, Citigroup's chairman and CEO. "This transaction complements our recent acquisition of Grupo Uno and, taken together, these transactions quickly and significantly strengthen our distribution capabilities and product offerings to serve retail and corporate clients in Central America."

The transaction is expected to close in early 2007.