May 31, 2013 / 5:54 PM / 5 years ago

New Scotiabank CEO says to drive international growth

TORONTO (Reuters) - Brian Porter, who will take over as Bank of Nova Scotia’s BNS.TO chief executive in November, said on Friday he plans to continue the bank’s growth in Latin America and Asia, while looking for opportunities to boost its Canadian credit card business.

“We’ve got a number of strategic initiatives in Canada ... and we’ll look at acquisitions selectively as they come about,” he told Reuters, shortly after being announced on Friday as the replacement for current CEO Rick Waugh.

Porter’s accession had been widely expected after he was named to the post of president last year, following a stint as the head of the Canadian bank’s international division, the bank’s highest-profile unit.

Scotiabank, Canada’s No. 3 lender, has operations in about 55 countries worldwide, predominantly in Latin America, but also with a growing footprint in Asia and a smaller wholesale banking operation in the United States.

Porter, 55, said he had no geographical bias on where he planned to drive growth, but said the bank was unlikely to push into markets where it’s not already active.

“We’re not going to Europe, we’re not going to Africa. We have lots of opportunity within our existing footprint,” he said.

Within Canada, he said he saw potential to expand the bank’s credit card business.

Porter’s promotion follows rival Toronto-Dominion Bank’s (TD.TO) announcement last month that its U.S. bank head, Bharat Masrani, will replace current CEO Ed Clark next year.

EXPANSION UNDER WAUGH

Porter, who joined Scotiabank in 1981, will have big shoes to fill in replacing Waugh, 65.

Since becoming CEO in 2003, Waugh has greatly expanded the bank’s reach in Latin America, and has continued to make acquisitions, both domestic and international, in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.

He scored a coup last year when Scotiabank was successful in acquiring ING Groep’s ING.AS Canadian online bank, which ING put up for sale as part of a series of planned divestments.

The sale, a rare opportunity to grab market share in Canada’s crowded retail banking space, generated interest from other Canadian banks.

Waugh, who began as a Scotiabank teller more than 40 years ago, will remain on the bank’s board and take on the role of deputy chairman until January 31, 2014.

But he leaves as Scotiabank and its rivals face the prospect of slowing loan growth in their lucrative domestic banking businesses, as well as the potential for a hard landing for the country’s housing sector.

Porter said he believes recent signs of softness in the housing sector are a natural reaction to recent moves by the Canadian government to tighten mortgage requirements.

“I’d say the things you’re seeing in the housing market are healthy and as predicted,” he said. “We would say on a macro basis the demand supply balance is in pretty good check across the board in Canada.”

He said he believes there is no need for further tightening of lending rules.

Just after midday, the bank’s shares were down 24 Canadian cents at C$58.99 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

Editing by Phil Berlowitz

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