JPMorgan Chase announced the launch of a sponsored American depositary receipt program for the Series A common shares of Mercantil Servicios Financieros, the largest financial services group in Venezuela. The Caracas-based holding company owns Banco Mercantil, Venezuela’s leading bank, and also offers banking and financial services in Colombia and the United States.
The new ADRs, which are equivalent to four Series A common shares, trade in the US over-the-counter market. The launch of Mercantil’s Series A common share ADR program will have no effect on the existing Mercantil Series B common share program, according to JPMorgan Chase, which acts as depositary. The Series B ADRs do not have to be exchanged for the new ADRs.
Mercantil owns Commercebank, based in Coral Gables, Florida. In January 2006 Commercebank purchased Florida Savings Bank. Commercebank plays a key role in Mercantil’s international business strategy, which includes offering trade finance and private banking in Latin America.
Mercantil has almost half of its total assets in the US, which should provide a significant source of income for the company even if the economic situation in Venezuela becomes less favorable, analysts say. Mercantil also owns a bank in Switzerland, which has a subsidiary in the Cayman Islands.
Meanwhile, JPMorgan Chase announced that it was appointed as successor depositary bank for the common and preferred share ADR programs for Brazilian oil company Petrobras, which are traded on the New York Stock Exchange.