Colombia's Sura, Scotiabank buy BBVA Peru fund for $1 billion

Colombian financial group Sura and Canada's Bank of Nova Scotia bought the Peruvian pension fund BBVA Horizonte on Tuesday for more than $1 billion, as competition heats up in the surging sector.

Each firm paid $516 million for a 50 percent stake in Horizonte, which has about $9 billion in assets under management.

Horizonte has a 23.5 percent share of all deposits in Peru's private pension fund system. It operates as an arm of BBVA Continental, one of Peru's top banks owned by Peru's Grupo Brescia and Spain's BBVA .

Bank of Nova Scotia, known as Scotiabank in Peru, made the purchase through its local pension fund Profuturo. Sura bought its stake via its Integra pension fund unit.

BBVA in Spain said it will make a net gain of $271 million from the sale.

Shares of Horizonte were down 0.15 percent at 20.69 soles on Lima's stock exchange. Traders said early on Tuesday all of the fund's 64.6 million shares were offered.

Peru's government recently overhauled fees charged by private pension funds as part of a larger effort to enroll more Peruvians in the retirement system.

In December, Chilean pension fund Habitat shook up Peru's pension industry, saying it would slash fees to a fraction of what competitors were charging in exchange for the right to sign up all new contributors for two years.

Peru's government largely dismantled the public-sector pension system in the 1990s as part of deep free-market reforms that some economists say have helped turn the Andean country into one of the fastest-growing economies in Latin America.

(Additional reporting by Ursula Scollo in Bogota; Writing by Terry Wade; editing by Andrew Hay)