Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Scotiabank Favours Latin America & Asia Over US

Bloomberg, Sean B Pasternak, 15 April 2008

Bank of Nova Scotia, Canada's second-largest bank, will look at ``opportunities'' in the U.S. although expansion there isn't a priority, Vice Chairman and Chief Administrative Officer Sabi Marwah said.

``We think we have several other places to invest,'' Marwah said in an interview in Toronto today after announcing a partnership with Western Union Co., the biggest U.S. money- transfer business.

Scotiabank may buy ``at least a stake'' in Cleveland-based National City Corp., the ninth-biggest U.S. bank, according to a report April 10 in the Wall Street Journal. Marwah declined to comment on the report. National City has a market value of almost $5 billion.

Acquisition priorities include Mexico, Central America, South America and the Caribbean, although the bank wouldn't rule out U.S. purchases, he said. Scotiabank has operations in 50 countries, and gets about a third of its profit from outside Canada.

``We are strong on a relative basis compared to our U.S. peers, and when those opportunities arise, we never say never,'' Marwah said. ``We're going to do it on our terms, and what works for us, fits into our strategy. And that hasn't changed.''

Marwah said that buying asset managers in Canada would be a ``high priority'' for Scotiabank. The bank owns the smallest mutual-fund franchise by assets among the five main Canadian banks.
The Globe and Mail, Tavia Grant, 15 April 2008

Bank of Nova Scotia calls itself Canada's most international bank, and it's looking to get even more global.

Scotiabank remains on the acquisition prowl, principally in Mexico, the Caribbean and other parts of Latin America. The U.S., where valuations are becoming more attractive, is not a priority though, Sabi Marwah, vice chairman and chief administrative officer, said in an interview Tuesday.

His comments came amid reports that Scotia is interested in National City Corp., a troubled Cleveland-based bank, which would mean a $5-billion foray into the U.S. retail banking market.

Opportunities in the U.S. are “opening up,” and Scotiabank is looking at them, but “the U.S. is not priority No. 1 at all,” Mr. Marwah said.

He said parts of Asia remain interesting for the bank. India and China are tough markets to enter because of their regulatory environment, but the bank is keen on boosting its presence in other Asian markets. It already owns about one-quarter of Thanachart Bank, Thailand's eighth largest bank, with the option of boosting that stake, “so we will look to build on that presence,” Mr. Marwah said.

It may also boost its presence in Malaysia and Taiwan, but “we will do it on our terms and what works for us.”

Another “high priority” continues to be building Scotiabank's market share in Canadian wealth management, he added. The bank snapped up wealth management DundeeWealth Inc. in January.

Mr. Marwah was speaking in Toronto, at an announcement that the bank will partner with Western Union Co. to offer money transfer services to its customers across the country. The new service will be available online or through any of Scotia's 1,000 branches, where people can send money to 200 countries around the world.

Canadians send about $5-billion a year in remittances, Western Union estimates.