REPUBLIC Financial Holdings Ltd has agreed to pay the Scotiabank US$120 million to acquire 100 per cent of the Canadian bank’s operations in the British Virgin Islands.

The announcement came in a notice on the T&T Stock Exchange in which the Port-of-Spain headquartered bank stated: “On November 27, 2019, the board of directors of Republic Financial Holdings Ltd passed a resolution to enter into a purchase and sale agreement with The Bank of Nova Scotia to acquire its shareholding in Scotiabank (British Virgin Islands) Ltd for the total sum of US$120,000,000.00, subject to regulatory approvals.”

The Scotiabank operations in the British Virgin Islands for which Republic paid US$120 million constitute two branches and six ATMs, “offering a complete range of retail and commercial banking services,” according to the bank’s BVI website.

The two drivers of the British Virgin Islands economy are tourism and it serves as an international business and finance centre.

The international business and finance centre employs 2,200 people directly and supports a further 3,000 jobs in the territory.

As recently as October 31, Republic purchased Scotiabank’s operations in seven Caribbean countries comprising Anguilla, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts & Nevis, St Lucia, St Maarten and St Vincent & the Grenadines to Republic Bank.

RFHL president, Nigel Baptiste, informed Express Business by email on November 2 in relation to the acquisition of the seven operations, that “the amount paid to Scotia was US$58.67 million and the transaction closed on October 31, 2019.”

In a statement, Scotiabank said: “This transaction supports the Bank’s strategic decision to focus on operations across its footprint where it can achieve greater scale and deliver the best value for customers.”

The US stock market website, nasdaq.com, in reporting on the acquisition, said: “Moreover, the company has announced plans to lower stake/move away from several non-strategic markets, including Thailand, Colombia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Dominican Republic and El Salvador. All these efforts are expected to help the bank increase share in its key markets.”

Republic’s acquisition of Scotiabank operations in eight countries, which total US$178.67 million, add to the T&T bank’s purchase Republic Financial Holdings Limited of 74.99 per cent of the issued shares in the Cayman National Corporation Limited (CNC) at an offering price of US$6.25 per share.

The overall cost of the Cayman transaction was US$198.47 million, which means that Republic spent at least US$377.14 million in the 2019 calendar year acquiring control of banks in nine countries.

Republic’s acquisitions of the Cayman National Corporation led to its asset base increasing by 24 per cent to US$13.09 billion for the year ending September 30, 2019 from US$10.58 billion for the same period the year earlier. The addition of Scotiabank’s seven Caribbean operations as well as the British Virgin Islands is expected to push Republic’s assets beyond US$15 billion.

Republic’s after-tax profit for its 2019 financial year amounted to US$237 million, which was 19.7 per cent more than for its 2018 financial year.

In its 2019 annual report, outgoing RFHL chairman, Ronald Harford states: “The outlook for the economies in which we operate is generally positive and we expect continued growth in our subsidiaries in those territories. This combined with our recent acquisition of CNC, the completion of the acquisition of Scotiabank’s operations in the

Eastern Caribbean and St. Maarten, and the implementation of a number of efficiency initiatives, will boost profitability over the coming years.”

Baptiste, RFHL’s president, said in the annual report: “The group continues to progress with its strategy of acquisition and diversification of income sources, with the acquisition of Cayman National Corporation, which became part of RFHL on March 13, 2019.

“On November 1, 2019, the group completed the acquisition of Scotiabank’s banking operations in St Maarten, Anguilla, Dominica, Grenada, St Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. On a proforma basis, the acquisition will add 350 team members to our staff complement, US$1.5 billion to total asset size and US$20 million to net profits. I welcome all new team members to the Republic family.

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