Banco Ganadero was in 1996 the largest Colombian bank (ranked by assets). It had moved through a challenging period of change lasting nearly 15 years, during which it had transformed itself from a majority government-owned bank to a full-service financial institution. The bank's previous mandate had been extremely clear: to support the development of Colombia's livestock sector. Now, however, Banco Ganadero possessed growing relationship responsibilities with rapid growth commercial and industrial sectors, some of which were overseas in the United States, Panama, and Venezuela. Specific issues include: 1) how to survive the increasingly open competition from foreign banks; 2) how to build a global strategy -at least one for the Americas; and 3) how to modernize the technological base of the bank.
The case illustrates the problems facing leading financial institutions in emerging markets in the late 1990s. Banco Ganadero was the largest in Colombia at the time, yet small relative to international competitors such as those from the United States, Japan, and western Europe. In the 1990s the bank faced new and formidable international competition due to the "economic opening" of the Colombian economy, including the permission of foreign banks to enter the domestic market. The case gives students the opportunity to put themselves in the shoes of decision makers who are attemping to form a strategy for survival.