Financial Companies Expanding

July 20, 2007

Two financial services companies are making Costa Rica their base of operations for Central America, an indication of the country’s – and the region’s – maturing financial markets, say the directors of both companies.

SC Riesgo and PiP Centroamerica plan to provide financial risk assessments and pricing services, respectively, throughout the region. And Costa Rica was their choice for a base.

“Costa Rica is the most mature market in Central America,” said SC Riesgo Director Gary Barquero.

SC Riesgo, a Costa Rican company, has already been operating in Costa Rica for 10 years, but now the company is carrying out plans to expand its services to the regional level.

The company gives risk qualifications to banks, funds, stocks and bonds, which allow potential investors to calculate how much risk they are taking when investing in those financial tools.

Founded in 1997, SC Riesgo began by qualifying companies such as Florida Ice and Farm and DHL Logistics. As banks have regionalized – thanks in part to changes in banking laws in most Central American countries – SC Riesgo has gone with them.

The company is investing $230,000 in new headquarters in Cartago, east of San José, and while it already has a presence in Panama, soon it will enter the rest of Central America.

SC Riesgo has 13 employees.

PiP Centroamerica, meanwhile, is new to the region. They provide the service of evaluating a financial tool like a stock or a bond and putting a price on it for potential investors.

The company is a subsidiary of Mexican company Proveador Integral de Precios, which prices 80% of the pension funds and 60% of all active assets in that country.

PiP Centroamerica will be Standard & Poors’ price vendor for Central America, said Manager Eduardo Rodríguez.

Final approval from Costa Rica’s financial regulatory body, the Superintendence of Financial Entities (SUGEF), is pending, but Rodríguez said he expects it soon.

The company’s offices are located in the Forum office complex in Santa Ana, west of San José, and it is currently operating with six employees.

From there, the company plans to branch out and offer its financial pricing services throughout Central America.

Neither manager said they are concerned about the result of Costa Rica’s October referendum on the Central American Free-Trade Agreement with the United States (CAFTA).

Barquero, however, noted there are anecdotal indications that investment is up in the rest of Central America – the countries that have approved CAFTA.

“It is making (Costa Rica) less attractive,” he said. “The ones that are winning… (and) showing less risk, are the other countries.”


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