The head of Popular Inc. said things are looking up for the troubled lender and reeling Puerto Rican economy after three of the island's biggest banks failed last week.

Popular cemented its status as the region's dominant player with a purchase of one of them, Westernbank, an acquisition that Chief Executive Richard Carrion described as the new centerpiece of his strategy for retrenching in Puerto Rico after a painful expansion into the U.S. mainland.

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