TORONTO (Reuters) - Royal Bank of Canada RY.TO is “examining its opportunities” regarding its joint venture with distressed Belgian lender Dexia DEXI.BR, RBC’s chief executive said on Friday.
In an interview with Canada’s BNN television, CEO Gord Nixon wouldn’t comment on whether it was negotiating to buy Dexia’s 50-percent stake in the venture, RBC Dexia Investor Services, but acknowledged there was pressure on RBC to make a decision.
Dexia has said it is looking to sell assets, including the joint venture stake.
“So there’s no question that we have to examine what our opportunities are going forward,” he said.
RBC Dexia caters to institutional investors, and is known chiefly as a custodian bank, which safeguards investors’ assets, rather than dealing in traditional lending.
Brussels-based Dexia was bailed out by France, Belgium and Luxembourg this month, receiving 90 billion euros ($127 billion) of state guarantees and accepting that the Belgian government would take over its operations in that country for 4 billion euros.
Dexia said last week it had started the process of disposing of its 50 percent stake in its RBC Dexia.
Nixon noted that Dexia was completely “ring-fenced”, meaning that the company’s debt troubles will not seep into RBC’s balance sheet. “It’s not a risk,” he said.
Nixon said the bank was looking to add to its wealth management business and was looking for assets that that may be sold off by European financial-services companies looking to clean up their balance sheets.
“Absolutely we are looking,” he said.
Asked about Canada’s housing industry, which has remained strong despite concerns about consumer debt levels, Nixon said he didn’t think their was a general price bubble, although he said there were “pockets of concern”.
Reporting by Cameron French in Toronto; editing by Peter Galloway