Grenada Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell has said that he was not surprised at the decision by Scotiabank to sell its operations in nine Caribbean countries saying he was also happy to see a Caribbean institution “playing an even bigger role in the banking system”.
The Trinidad-based Republic Financial Holdings Limited (RFHL) said last week Tuesday it had entered into an agreement to acquire Scotiabank’s banking operations in nine Caribbean countries.
A RFHL statement said that the banks being acquired are in Guyana, St. Maarten, Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, and St Vincent and the Grenadines.
It said that the purchase price is US$123 million, which represents US$25 million consideration for total shareholding of Scotiabank Anguilla Limited; and a premium of US$98 million over net asset value for operations in the remaining eight countries.
But while Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne said his administration would not be issuing a vesting order to facilitate the sale, PM Mitchell, who is also the Finance Minister in Grenada, said he would not move to block the sale.
“I am happy to see a Caribbean institution playing an even bigger role in the banking system in this country,” Dr. Mitchell said, noting that while he lamented the fact that the Canadian bank was moving out, he was also very supportive of competition.
“While we see less competition, the fact is we still have diversity in the banking sector,” he said, noting that the Grenada Co-operative Bank Ltd in Grenada is the largest bank in his country.
“And it happens to be not just Caribbean owned, but locally owned.”
PM Mitchell said he believed Scotiabank had signalled its intention to move out some time ago, recalling he had discussions with senior officials recently and the answer given had indicated to him that the bank was looking outward.
““So I think we have to understand what is happening in the Caribbean. If one understood what was happening in the region that was not something you would say that surprised us. It did not surprise me and I did indicate when I heard certain comments made not long ago by a leading director from the bank of Nova Scotia when I asked him about investment and the answer he gave.
“I was not surprised by the results I saw,” he said, adding that he had been informed of the proposed sale before the announcement was made.”