Scotiabank Caribbean Retreat Marks Shift After 129-Year Presence

(Bloomberg) -- Bank of Nova Scotia’s retreat from parts of the Caribbean marks a turnabout for a Canadian lender initially drawn to the region 129 years ago by the thriving trade in rum, sugar and fish.

Scotiabank agreed to sell its banking operations in nine of the 21 Caribbean markets it operates in -- Anguilla, Antigua, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Maarten, St. Vincent & the Grenadines -- to Republic Financial Holdings Ltd. Terms weren’t disclosed. The bank is also selling insurance operations in Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago in a deal involving Sagicor Financial Corp. The moves come as the bank focuses on “core markets with significant scale,” the Toronto-based lender said in a statement.

The Caribbean has attracted Canada’s lenders for more than 100 years, with Royal Bank of Canada and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce following after Scotiabank, whose Caribbean foray began with an office in Kingston, Jamaica, in 1889. That was eight years before the lender opened a branch in Toronto. Scotiabank, Royal Bank and CIBC today remain the dominant foreign lenders in the region.

Canadians will get a new connection to the Caribbean following Scotiabank’s insurance transaction. Sagicor, based in Barbados and listed in London, also struck a 20-year insurance-distribution deal with Scotiabank and agreed to be bought by Toronto-based Alignvest Acquisition II Corp. The surviving entity will continue the Sagicor brand and will be publicly listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

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