BankAtlantic Bancorp., which has $2.7 billion-of assets and 57 branches across the state, has set up an international division for U.S. and offshore enterprises active in Latin American trade and commerce.

The Latin American office will be headquartered on Brickell Avenue in Miami's downtown financial district. It will be overseen by Mario Luis del Valle, BankAtlantic's president for Dade County Operations. BankAtlantic is also establishing strong correspondent relationships with banks throughout Latin America.

Peggy Baldwin, senior vice president, has been named head of the international division. Ms. Baldwin joined BankAlantic from Republic National Bank of Miami, where she managed international corporate and correspondent banking relationships. Before that, she served as head of the international division of Banco Mercantil del Peru and as head of Banco Industrial del Peru's international operations.

The bank said it will offer issuance of letters of credit, arrangement of Export/Import Bank guarantee insurance for exporter transactions, trade financing, foreign currency exchange, wire transfer services, collections, and other related international activities.

BankAtlantic also is establishing correspondent banking links with institutions in Brazil, Venezuela, Panama, El Salvador, and other Central American and South American countries, Mr. del Valle said.

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