Canadian banks regional exit continues with RBC Eastern Caribbean sell-off

Canadian banks regional exit continues with RBC Eastern Caribbean sell-off

BFSU president: Bank exit a ‘trend’ to keep and eye on

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) yesterday announced that it had reached definitive agreements to sell all of its banking operations in the eastern Caribbean.

The sale encompasses the branches of Royal Bank of Canada in Antigua, Dominica, Montserrat, St. Lucia, and St. Kitts and Nevis, as well as regional businesses operating under RBC Royal Bank Holdings (EC) Limited in Nevis, Grenada and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

The consortium of five financial entities purchasing includes: 1st National Bank of St. Lucia, Antigua Commercial Bank Ltd., National Bank of Dominica Ltd., the Bank of Montserrat and Bank of Nevis Ltd.

The announcement comes weeks after rival bank CIBC announced had reached an agreement on the purchase of a portion of its shares in its Caribbean entity, FirstCaribbean International Bank Limited (“FirstCaribbean”) by the GNB Financial Group Limited.

GNB is wholly owned by Starmites Corporation, the financial holding company of the Gilinski Group. The Gilinski Group has banking operations in Colombia, Peru, Paraguay, Panama, and Cayman Islands with approximately US $15 billion in combined assets.

Bahamas Financial Services Union (BFSU) president Theresa Mortimer said yesterday the union is keeping a ‘close eye’ on these developments as it appears to mark a trend among the Canadian commercial banks in the region.

“That seems to be the route they are taking,” Mortimer said.

“It seems to be the trend the Canada banks are taking on. They have made their profits and now they want out, not just out of The Bahamas but the Caribbean. It’s seems to be Caribbean thing. It’s sad but that’s the way it is. We have to wait and see.”

She continued: “Still, banks have not had an easy going in the Caribbean in recent years having suffered significant losses in the region. The Canadian banks have all been shutting down various segments of their operation in the region from wealth management to retail banking.

Mortimer said the BFSU is still waiting to have talks over the FCIB development, as the BFSU represents the bank’s Bahamian employees.

“We haven’t had any meeting or discussions yet,” she said.

“We are still waiting. We are watching First Caribbean because that’s where our members are. We haven’t had any discussions yet but I’m not pushing it because it’s Christmas. It’s something we are definitely going to stay on top of in the new year.”