As Banks Rush Into China, BMO’s CEO Still Favors U.S. for Growth

(Bloomberg) -- Bank of Montreal Chief Executive Officer Darryl White says he still favors the U.S. for expansion over China, even with some of the world’s biggest lenders clamoring to expand in Asia’s biggest economy.

“For now our position with respect to China is, we like what we’ve got,” White, 48, said Monday in a TV interview with BNN Bloomberg. “Our marginal investment dollar has tended to be to the United States in terms of our growth dollar, because we can see a clearer return in the near term.”

China’s signal last year that it’s opening up its $40 trillion financial market has large U.S. banks including JPMorgan Chase & Co., Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Morgan Stanley rushing in. Canada’s fourth-biggest bank has been active in China for decades, with a banking license, wealth management and capital markets services.

Bank of Montreal’s existing China units are providing a boost to its North American operations, White said, adding he has no plans to significantly expand the bank’s presence or get into consumer lending in the Asian nation.

“When we look at our businesses in China, they’re great conduits and corridors to our businesses in North America, in capital markets and in wealth particularly,” White said. “We’re going to continue to optimize what we’ve got in China, and it’s operating well.”

Bank of Montreal bought a stake Fullgoal Fund Management Co. in 2003, becoming the first foreign company to acquire an interest in an established fund management firm in China. The lender has offered services in China including trade finance, cash management, corporate lending, treasury products and foreign exchange, and has branches in Beijing, Guangzhou, Shanghai and Hong Kong.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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