June 10, 2009 / 9:18 PM / 11 years ago

UPDATE 2-Mexican bank Banorte buys fund, launches ADRs

(Adds detail on future plans)

MEXICO CITY, June 10 (Reuters) - Banorte, one of Mexico’s top banks, said on Wednesday it has agreed to buy a pension fund business from a smaller rival and that it listed its stock on the U.S. over-the-counter market.

Banorte’s (GFNORTEO.MX) Generali unit will absorb Ixe’s IXEGFO.MX 312,489 pension clients, whose combined accounts are worth 5.45 billion pesos ($399 million).

The transaction is subject to approval from Mexico’s competition agency.

In Mexico, workers in the private sector save for their retirements in pension funds known as Afores.

In a separate announcement, Banorte said it had listed its stock through pink sheets (GBOOY.PK) in the U.S. over-the-counter market. Companies sometimes tap this less-regulated market before leaping into a larger exchange.

Banorte sees the over-the-counter market as a possible prelude to listing its ADRS on the New York Stock Exchange, a bank source told Reuters.

Only a handful of Mexican companies, like tycoon Carlos Slim’s telecom giants America Movil (AMX.N) or Telefonos de Mexico TMX.N, trade their American Depositary Receipts on big U.S. markets with healthy liquidity.

Some Mexican corporations have withdrawn their shares from U.S. markets in recent years to avoid tighter scrutiny from U.S. securities regulators.

Banorte ended among the top decliners on the Mexican exchange on Wednesday. Its shares lost 5.45 percent to close at 31.38 pesos. ($1 = 13.6640 pesos) (Reporting by Cyntia Barrera Diaz and Noel Randewich, editing by Matthew Lewis)

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