Chase Manhattan Corp., together with Switzerland's Credit Suisse and Germany's Dresdner Bank AG, is bidding to buy Argentina's Banco de Santa Fe.

Bloomberg News reported that Banco General de Negocios SA, a jointly owned unit of the three international banks, has offered to pay slightly more than $57 million for Santa Fe. It is Argentina's 19th-largest bank, with about $400 million of deposits, $60 million of assets, and 105 branches. A spokesman for Chase in New York said he was unable to confirm the report but did not deny it.

A deal for Santa Fe would enable the three banks to develop banking in the southern Latin American agricultural sector, said sources quoted by Bloomberg.It added that the three banks also plan to boost their stake in Negocios to 75%, from around 64%. Chase owns 21.7% of Banco de Negocios, which belonged to Chemical Banking Corp. before the latter's merger with Chase. Dresdner owns 19.6%, and Credit Suisse, 22.5%. The balance is privately owned.

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