September 11, 2015 / 8:52 PM / 4 years ago

TD looks to expand U.S. presence through acquisitions: CEO

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Toronto Dominion Bank (TD.TO) is interested in broadening its U.S. market presence through acquisitions and could boost its credit card and wealth management businesses through potential deals, Chief Executive Bharat Masrani said on Friday.

Bharat Masrani, group president and chief executive officer of Toronto Dominion (TD) Bank Group, gestures as he speaks during an interview in New York September 11, 2015. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

The Canadian bank, which has grown rapidly in the U.S. Northeast, may also bolster its reach in the Southeast, including Florida, by going after suitable targets, he said in an interview.

TD’s U.S. balance sheet has grown quickly and includes roughly $250 billion in assets, he said. TD, Canada’s largest lender by assets, has more than 1,300 branches along the East Coast and is one of the 10 biggest banks in the United States.

The lender is looking to buy assets or asset-generating units to leverage its balance sheet strength, while primarily staying focused on organic growth, he said.

TD has acquired credit card portfolios at Target (TGT.N) and Nordstrom (JWN.N), and Masrani said if there were more such opportunities, TD would take a very serious look.

“Our credit card exposures are still within the concentrations that we would be comfortable with. So we have lots more room to grow that asset class,” he said. “We’d like our (loan book) to be fairly well diversified.”

TD’s growth has been fueled by acquisitions in the United States, including Banknorth in 2007 and Commerce Bancorp in 2008.

Masrani declined to say if TD was planning to snap up some of General Electric’s (GE.N) finance assets. TD has been flagged as a possible buyer.

Canadian companies have been among the most active buyers of GE’s finance assets, with Element Financial (EFN.TO) buying some of its fleet management assets, CPPIB acquiring its private equity lending portfolio and Bank of Montreal (BMO.TO) set to pick up its transport finance unit.

TD has the appetite for large deals, but only if it makes strategic and financial sense, Masrani said.

The other area of growth would be its capital markets division, which he expects will outpace the rest of the business.

“We have lots of room to grow without disturbing our position (as) a predominantly retail bank,” Masrani said.

TD wants to double its U.S. capital markets business over the next three to four years, Glenn Gibson, the U.S. head of TD Securities, said last month.

TD’s push in capital markets follows efforts by Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO) and BMO to invest heavily in the U.S. market since the financial crisis.

Strengthening its wealth management business, potentially through acquisitions, would also help TD offer products across the whole retail continuum, Masrani said.

Reporting by John Tilak; Editing by Jonathan Oatis

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