Magazine article American Banker


Magazine article American Banker


Article excerpt

Island Assessment

Richard Carrion, the chairman and chief executive of Popular Inc., and Gov. Anibal Acevedo-Vila of Puerto Rico were in New York this week trying to drum up investment interest in the island, but they gave somewhat differing assessments of its economic outlook.

Gov. Acevedo-Vila sounded upbeat during a press conference Tuesday, describing the island's transformation from a manufacturing to a knowledge-based economy.

"Few places in the United States, or even around the world, have a government as eager to partner with companies and potential investors as Puerto Rico," she said.

Mr. Carrion, however, raised some broader concerns.

"It is no secret that Puerto Rico has been going through a difficult period," he told a gathering of private investors and corporate executives at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in midtown Manhattan.

Mr. Carrion hit the accounting issues that have plagued several Puerto Rican banking companies and the island's fiscal problems, but he also mentioned poor test scores among children and said public schools must improve.

"We are seeing some disturbing trends," he said. "We certainly cannot talk of economic growth and economic stability if that gap" in quality between public and private education "continues to increase."

Still, Mr. Carrion was optimistic about Puerto Rican's ability to right itself. "We have answered the call in the past," he said.

Two in the Top 50

A pair of banking companies made this year's BusinessWeek list of 50 best-performing companies, improving on the sector's performance last year, when just one made the grade. …

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