The Spanish bank Santander will invest 100 billion pesos (US $5.1 billion) in infrastructure projects in Mexico, bank chief Ana Botín said on Monday.
After meeting with President López Obrador at the National Palace in Mexico City, Botín said she was convinced that the time is right to invest in Mexico.
The funds, which will double Santander’s existing investment in infrastructure in Mexico, will go to projects included in the public-private National Infrastructure Program. Botín didn’t specify which projects the bank will finance.
She said Santander is the biggest source of funding in the world for infrastructure projects and that Mexico is an attractive place to invest because its economy is on a “good path” despite stagnant growth.
The executive chairwoman noted that inflation is low, public finances are stable, foreign investment continues to flow into the country and the exchange rate isn’t a barrier to investment.
Botín also announced on Monday that Santander will stop charging commissions on remittances sent to Mexico by migrants in the United States.
“We’re committed to launching this program tomorrow [Tuesday] at Santander’s United States branches to any bank in Mexico, with no commissions and using a very competitive exchange rate,” she said in a video posted to Twitter by López Obrador.
The Santander chief added that the aim is to introduce no-commission transfers via its mobile app in 2020 and subsequently open up the possibility for Mexicans in the United States who are not customers of the bank to send remittances home without incurring any cost.
López Obrador, who described commissions charged for remittances as “abusive,” said he was confident that other banks would follow Santander’s example.
“This is going to help a lot so that the families of our migrants receive more funds,” he said.
According to central bank data, Mexicans living abroad, mainly U.S.-based workers, sent almost US $27 billion home in the first nine months of 2019.