Non-bank competition
Wal-Mart ups the ante in Mexico

Wal-Mart’s Mexican subsidiary, Wal-Mart de México,
the largest retail chain in the country, plans to accelerate the
growth of its new retail bank by opening as many as 80 branches in
2008. Wal-Mart de México has opened its first nine branches,
offering savings accounts and credits to buy products, and plans to
have 16 in-store branches running by the end of November, chief
executive Julio Gomez said.

Merger & acquisitions
GE, Nomura look at Vietcombank

According to the newswire Bloomberg, General Electric and
a group that includes Japanese investment bank Nomura are in talks
to buy a stake in the Bank for Foreign Trade of Vietnam
(Vietcombank), the country’s third-biggest commercial bank. The
government plans to sell at least 15 percent of the Hanoi-based

Rabobank sells online broker Alex

Dutch co-operative Rabobank has sold its online brokerage business
Alex to Dutch internet broker BinckBank for €390 million ($576.8
million) in cash. Rabobank said in March that it was looking to
sell the Alex unit, which it acquired from Dexia Bank Nederland in
January 2003. Following the acquisition, Alex will continue to
exist as a separate brand under the ownership of BinckBank and will
retain its own positioning.

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Cash still king for UK customers

The British Retail Consortium says UK consumers still prefer to use
cash when paying for purchases in stores despite moves by banks to
boost revenues from fees through increased card spending. Note and
coin payments accounted for more than one-half (54 percent) of all
transactions last year. The retailers’ organisation has accused
card companies of exaggerating the extent to which cards have
replaced cash, while pushing cashless payment methods to boost

Mergers and
Commerzbank sells French unit

Commerzbank has sold its French asset management subsidiary, Caisse
Centrale de Réescompte, for €435 million to Switzerland’s UBS.
Commerzbank sold its UK asset management subsidiary, Jupiter, in
March, and Commerz International Capital Management (Japan) in
September. The goal is to refocus its asset management activities
on its German subsidiary, cominvest.