Scotiabank yesterday defended its decision to exit some markets in the region, even as it insisted that the “Caribbean is very important” to its overall operations.

“We are just refocusing on the markets with size and scale… (and) even after this transaction we will be servicing 90 per cent of the Caribbean,” said Stephen Bagnarol, Scotiabank’s senior vice-president and head of the Caribbean South and East.

“We have made clear we are committed to the Caribbean; we have made the recent acquisition in the Dominican Republic and the investments we are making in these other countries. We are driving now digital alerts all across the Caribbean and these are big investments the bank continues to make in these markets.”

“So I think the key here is that we have been a bank for the Caribbean. This is not an exit from the Caribbean but a refocus on markets of size and scale,” he added according to a report by CMC News.

The Trinidad-based Republic Financial Holdings Limited (RFHL) said on 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 located 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.

“These transactions… are still subject to regulatory approval and we will work with all the different governments and regulators to make sure there is a smooth transition,” said Bagnarol, who is also the managing director of Scotiabank Trinidad and Tobago Limited.

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