Mexico's Infonavit sees stronger lending in 2010

MEXICO CITY Thu Dec 10, 2009 4:12pm EST

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MEXICO CITY Dec 10 (Reuters) - Infonavit, Mexico's leading mortgage lender, plans to hand out between 475,000 and 525,000 credits next year as the country recovers from a deep recession.

Infonavit, a government-backed institution that saves and lends money on behalf of Mexican workers, expects to lend a total of 145 billion pesos ($11 billion) in 2010, chief executive Victor Borras said at an event on Thursday.

This year, Infonavit handed out about 450,000 mortgages, fewer than its original goal of 500,000, as the economic slump and rising unemployment led fewer Mexicans to buy homes.

"The Mexican housing industry managed to withstand, not without costs, one of the worst economic crises ever faced, thanks to strength built over the past decade," Borras said.

Infonavit's goals are key to the expansion of leading Mexican homebuilders like Homex (HOMEX.MX) and Geo (GEOB.MX), most of whose clients depend on the lender for their mortgages.

Slammed by a drop in U.S. demand, Mexico's economy is expected to shrink by 7 percent this year before growing about 3 percent in 2010.

Infonavit depends mostly on contributions from employers for its financing but in recent years has begun to securitize and sell mortgages to Mexico's private pension funds and other big investors.

This year, Infonavit has raised about 11 billion pesos through mortgage-backed debt placements.

Mexico's banking system has avoided much of the turmoil of the global credit crisis since its focus has been on traditional lending rather than risky subprime loans or complex derivatives. ($1 = 12.97 pesos) (Reporting by Luis Rojas Mena, editing by Matthew Lewis)

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