* Thanachart says will cooperate with Scotiabank if stake is sold
* Scotiabank’s emerging market presence has hurt its stock
* Thanachart says Scotiabank’s Asia strategy has changed (Adds confirmation from company, changes sourcing in lead)
By John Tilak and Khettiya Jittapong
TORONTO/BANGKOK, Dec 18 (Reuters) - Canada’s Bank of Nova Scotia said on Friday it may consider strategic options for its 49 percent stake in Thanachart Bank Pcl, Thailand’s No. 2 car loan provider.
Majority owner Thanachart Capital Pcl said on Friday it would cooperate with the Canadian lender if it decided to sell its stake in Thailand’s sixth-largest bank, which had a carrying value of $1.7 billion on Bank of Nova Scotia’s books.
Scotiabank, as it is known, was weighing the sale of the stake as it found managing an Asian retail presence cumbersome, said a source familiar with the matter who declined to be identified as the information was not public.
The bank said it has not made a final decision about the investment.
Scotiabank shares fell 1.6 percent to C$56.22.
Canada’s third-biggest bank with the widest international presence has come under pressure due to concerns about its exposure to emerging markets. While several European and U.S. financial institutions have scaled back in Asia, some Canadian banks and insurers have expanded there to overcome slower growth at home.
Bloomberg first reported the plan on Thursday.
Thanachart Capital, which owns the remaining 51 percent in the bank, said in a statement to the Thai Stock Exchange that Scotiabank had changed its business strategy in the Asia-Pacific region.
Any new shareholder must have the capacity to position Thanachart Bank as a first-tier financial institution, it said.
Last month Moody’s Investors Service placed Scotiabank’s ratings under review for a possible downgrade, saying it had abandoned its traditional low-risk strategy in pursuit of greater profit.
Scotiabank spent C$510 million ($365.8 million) to build its stake in the unlisted Thai bank over the past eight years.
Thanachart Bank has seen slow growth in its loan books, hit by weak auto sales. ($1 = 1.3947 Canadian dollars) (Reporting by John Tilak in Toronto and Khettiya Jittapong in Bangkok; Additional reporting by Manunphattr Dhanananphorn; Writing by Denny Thomas; Editing by Stephen Coates and Jeffrey Benkoe)