Scotiabank sees opportunities in Pacific Alliance bloc

Thu Apr 9, 2015 5:24pm EDT
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By John Tilak

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS.TO: Quote) expects strong growth this year in the Pacific Alliance markets of Mexico, Peru, Chile and Colombia, and could make acquisitions to bolster its position there, a top executive said on Thursday.

"We’re seeing momentum in the international division," Scotiabank Chief Financial Officer Sean McGuckin said in an interview. "We’re seeing good, top-line volume growth in the Pacific Alliance countries. We’re projecting out stronger growth in our international banking segment as the year progresses."

McGuckin said Scotiabank, the most international of Canada's big banks, is seeing particular strength in Mexico, with a pickup in the U.S. economy driving investment in its southern neighbor.

"We continue to grab market share in retail and also commercial banking (in Mexico)," he said.

Analysts expect Scotiabank, Canada's No. 3 lender, to make acquisitions to further its strategy in the region, something McGuckin said management was open to.

"If acquisitions come along and they are on strategy, provide a bit more scale, more opportunity in some of those markets, we'll definitely look at those," McGuckin said.

"The Pacific Alliance region has got very good, promising economic and demographic shifts that will provide great banking opportunities."

Last year, Scotiabank signed agreements to buy a majority stake in retailer Cencosud SA's CEN.SN retail credit card business in Chile and Citibank's (C.N: Quote) retail and commercial banking operations in Peru.   Continued...

Snow covers the Scotiabank logo at the Bank of Nova Scotia headquarters in Toronto December 16, 2013.  REUTERS/Chris Helgren