* Deal expands Scotiabank’s Colombian presence
* Buys 51 pct now with option for remainder in 7 years
* Canada’s No. 3 bank sees more acquisitions in Colombia
* Purchase to close in December, add to earnings in 2012 (Adds quote from Scotiabank’s Porter)
By Nelson Bocanegra and Cameron French
BOGOTA/TORONTO, Oct 20 (Reuters) - Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS.TO)BNS.N agreed to pay about $1 billion in cash and stock for a majority stake in Colombia’s unlisted Banco Colpatria, expanding the Canadian bank’s footprint in the Latin American country.
The Canadian bank, which entered Colombia last year with the purchase of Royal Bank of Scotland’s wholesale operations in the country, said on Thursday it will pay $500 million in cash and 10 million shares for a 51 percent stake in Colombia’s seventh-largest bank by assets.
Canada’s No. 3 bank, commonly known as Scotiabank, also said it had an option to buy the remaining 49 percent at fair market value in seven years from Grupo Colpatria, the holding company that has controlled Banco Colpatria until now.
Colombia’s banking sector could be attractive for foreign banks looking for growth potential considering only 60 percent of the population uses banks.
Scotiabank said it would continue shopping around the world.
“Given the dislocation in the market today, we view this as a opportune time to look at asset purchases, portfolio purchases or bank purchases, and we’ll continue to do that,” Scotiabank’s head of international banking, Brian Porter, told Reuters in an interview. [ID:nN1E79J1K8]
“We get calls by the week about different assets or pending divestitures around the globe, so ... there will be further opportunities,” he said.
Colpatria had said in September it expected to have a foreign partner before the end of the year, and banks such as Brazil’s Banco do Brasil (BBAS3.SA) and Itau (ITUB4.SA) and Chile’s CorpBanca COB.SN were believed to have been interested.
Grupo Colpatria had just bought back a 49.7 percent stake in the Colombian bank from General Electric Co (GE.N) earlier this year, after having sold the stake to GE in 2007.
Scotiabank’s acquisition is expected to close in December and will add a few cents to earnings per share in 2012. The deal continues its expansion in Latin America in recent years, when it has acquired substantial holdings in Mexico and Central and South America.
“Colombia’s population of 45 million people is young, mainly urban, and significantly underbanked,” Porter told a conference call.
Banco Colpatria, which has assets of $6.2 billion and deposits of $4.2 billion, is Colombia’s second largest credit card issuer and has a network of 175 branches, Scotiabank said.
“We will be looking for opportunities in the market, which we will be evaluating together with the people from Scotiabank,” Colpatria Chief Executive Santiago Perdomo told Reuters.
“We will continue our strategic plan of organic growth. Scotiabank, which can provide a lot in terms of syndicated loans and loans to big corporations,” Perdomo said.
Banco Colpatria’s operations will be combined with Scotiabank’s existing wholesale business in the country but will continue to operate under the name Colpatria in Colombia, where the banking sector is still largely under local control.
“We view the acquisition positively and believe that it incrementally adds to Scotia’s very positive growth profile,” Barclays Capital analyst John Aiken said in a research note. “Further, we believe that the issuance of common equity in the transaction should be viewed favorably.”
Canada’s big banks weathered the 2008 financial crisis in reasonably good shape, and have continued to make acquisitions, most recently picking up assets in Canada being sold off by foreign banks.
Scotiabank’s shares were up 12 Canadian cents at C$51.85 on the Toronto Stock Exchange in afternoon trade and were up 52 cents, or 1.0 percent, at $50.15 in New York.
$1=$1.02 Canadian Reporting by Cameron French in Toronto and Nelson Bocanegra in Bogota; Writing by Daniel Trotta in Bogota; editing by Peter Galloway, Bob Burgdorfer, Gary Hill