February 28, 2013 / 9:25 PM / in 5 years

UPDATE 1-TD CEO shuts down Citizens Bank rumors, shares rise

* Clark says takeover of Citizens would not meet TD criteria

* TD shares had been pressured by takeover rumors

* TD has made several U.S. deals in past eight years (Adds background)

TORONTO, Feb 28 (Reuters) - Toronto-Dominion Bank Chief Executive Ed Clark poured cold water on the idea that the bank might buy Royal Bank of Scotland’s Citizens Bank unit, saying on Thursday such a deal would not meet TD’s criteria for transactions.

His comments pushed the Canadian bank’s shares up 0.7 percent in late trading.

On a conference call, Clark said any deal TD would consider would have to fit its strategy, timetable, risk appetite and financial targets, and be supported by the market.

“We do not believe that a transaction to acquire RBS’s Citizens Bank is a (deal) that meets this criteria,” he said, taking the unusual step of commenting directly on rumors of a deal.

TD, which has made several U.S. consumer bank acquisitions over the past eight years, held informal discussions with RBS last year about Citizens, people familiar with the situation have told Reuters.

Speculation that TD might buy the all or part of Citizens’ 1,500 branches pressured TD’s stock in December, when the rumors hit high gear and spurred investor worries that the normally cautious bank might overextend itself.

At the time, Clark took pains to point out that TD did not have to make any more acquisitions and would be very cautious in any deals it did make.

But reports early this week that RBS might undertake an initial public offering of all or part of Citizens brought TD’s name back into the picture as investors wondered whether the bank might be involved.

“Given recent media reports, just to be sure, I want to try to put this question firmly to bed,” Clark said.

TD’s shares rose 61 Canadian cents following Clark’s comments, and ended the session up 0.7 percent at C$84.85. Earlier on Thursday, TD reported a stronger-than-expected 21 percent rise in first-quarter profit.

$1=$1.03 Canadian Reporting by Cameron French; Editing by Richard Chang and Peter Galloway

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