Canadian banks go shopping for growth in U.S.

Tue Dec 21, 2010 5:20pm EST
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By Cameron French

TORONTO (Reuters) - Toronto-Dominion Bank and Bank of Montreal could take a breather from big U.S. buys after two deals in the last week, but Canadian banks will still troll for assets in a recovering U.S. economy.

After emerging from the financial crisis largely unbruised, Canadian lenders have used large capital positions to snap up bargain-price players.

BMO said last week it would buy troubled Wisconsin lender Marshall & Ilsley for $4.1 billion, fast-tracking a U.S. growth plan that had been stuck in neutral.

TD said on Tuesday it would buy Chrysler Financial for $6.3 billion, betting that the recovering U.S. auto sector will boost loan demand for its U.S. branch network.

"This latest move by TD shows that the Canadian banks are very well positioned," said Anthony Michael Sabino, a law and business professor at St. John's University in New York.

"I think they realize that eventually we will come out of the great recession, and doing so... consumers will start spending money again."

Before BMO's move, the largest recent deals were Royal Bank of Canada's $1.5 billion bid for British fund manager BlueBay Asset Management in October and Bank of Nova Scotia's C$2.3 billion purchase of DundeeWealth.