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Mexico's Compartamos eyes strong lending growth

MEXICO CITY, July 1 (Reuters) - Compartamos (COMPARTO.MX), a Mexican bank that makes small loans to family businesses, expects its second-quarter lending to have risen more than 20 percent despite a steep recession.

Tiny compared with Mexico's leading retail banks, Compartamos normally lends to one- or two-person businesses. Clients typically borrow around $370, at interest rates of about 75 percent, to buy supplies or capital, such as sewing machines or tables.

"At the beginning of the year Compartamos expected to grow above 20 percent, but everything indicates we'll comfortably beat that goal," Chief Financial Officer Fernando Alvarez told Reuters in an interview.

In the first quarter, Compartamos (COMPARTO.MX) expanded its loan portfolio by 42 percent, with 288 million pesos in net profit.

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This month, Compartamos plans to issue a bond for as much as 2 billion pesos with a maturity of at least three years, locking in financing to keep growing, Alvarez said.

Shares of Compartamos have surged about 126 percent since the global credit crisis slammed stock markets around the world in October, when it turned to government-backed development banks for financing as liquidity dried up in other markets.

The Mexico City-based microlender focuses on clients who do not qualify for loans at large, traditional banks.

"Demand for credit hasn't changed much," Alvarez said. "The demand is there, it's a neglected market."

Compartamos requires its clients to form into small groups of neighbors or merchants at local markets, and then holds each team responsible for making up payments missed by any of its members. ($1 = 13.11 pesos) (Reporting by Noel Randewich and Tomas Sarmiento; Editing by Richard Chang)

Published Wednesday, July 1, 2009 11:34 AM by Zinnia Q.

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