Mexico's Credijusto buys Banco Finterra, eyes U.S. business

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexican small business lender Credijusto has purchased local bank Banco Finterra in what it says is the first acquisition of a bank by a fintech company in Mexico, as the startup seeks a competitive edge in the fast-growing digital banking sector.

The deal for under $50 million closed last week after a year and a half in the works, and the combined assets are worth around $300 million, Credijusto’s co-Chief Executive David Poritz said in an interview on Tuesday.

With Banco Finterra’s backing, Credijusto aims to ramp up services for Mexican companies that sell to the United States, and build a business for U.S. companies that do cross-border trade in Mexico and beyond in Latin America.

“There are tremendous financing needs for small businesses exporting into the United States, and vice versa,” Poritz said, adding that he expects Credijusto to build a multibillion-dollar portfolio across the region in the coming years.

Credijusto and Banco Finterra combined have lent more than $2 billion to small and medium-sized businesses, he noted.

In a couple of years, Credijusto could look at another bank acquisition in the United States, Poritz said, noting that the budding interest by fintechs to acquire banks is likely to grow.

“It’s a very logical evolution,” he said.

Reporting by Daina Beth Solomon; Editing by Bill Berkrot