The Puerto Rico banking industry achieved a Pre-Tax ROE of 7.9% in the first nine months of 2011 after two years of negative bottom line. The improvement in the banking system profitability coincides with a period of weak economic activity and decreasing total assets. As a result, banks are facing the need to rationalize their expense structure locally to cope with increasing fixed costs relative to productive assets. Additionally, they are finding themselves with excess capital after a period when they had to strengthen their capital levels to face large credit losses. With limited opportunities to invest in the local market, banks are looking at alternatives to use their spare capital, like investing in existing outside operations, repaying debt or returning capital to their shareholders.