May 26, 2011 / 12:32 PM / 6 years ago

UPDATE 2-National Bank to buy wealth manager as profit rises

* Q2 adjusted EPS C$1.69 vs C$1.50 year earlier

* Bank to buy wealth management firm Wellington West

* National Bank boosts quarterly dividend payout by 8 pct

* Shares down slightly in early trade on TSX (Adds details on results, analyst comment)

By Euan Rocha

TORONTO, May 26 (Reuters) - National Bank of Canada (NA.TO) reported a higher quarterly profit on Thursday, driven largely by growth in its lending and wealth management businesses.

The Montreal-based bank, which also raised its quarterly dividend payout, announced a long anticipated move to acquire all the common shares of Wellington West that it does not own.

Wellington is an employee-owned firm that has become one of the largest full-service wealth management firms in Canada with over C$10 billion in assets under administration.

“This highly strategic acquisition will contribute to the continued growth of National Bank’s wealth management platform,” said Luc Paiement head of National Bank’s wealth management arm. “It also aligns with National Bank’s strategy to increase its scale and presence outside of Quebec.”

The transaction values Wellington West at C$333 million, including excess cash of C$74 million. Excluding National’s current ownership of about 18 percent, the amount payable to Wellington West shareholders is C$273 million.

The net outlay for the acquisition is about C$199 million after deducting the excess cash acquired as part of the deal, said National Bank in a statement.

The closing of the transaction, anticipated for July 2011, remains subject to the approval of Wellington West shareholders and regulators.

SOLID RESULTS

National Bank’s earnings excluding one-time items in the quarter ended April 30 rose 13 percent to C$295 million, or C$1.69 a share, from a profit of C$261 million, or C$1.50, a year earlier.

Analysts on average had forecast earnings of C$1.68, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

While earnings were strong, investors are more likely to focus on the Wellington West acquisition and the dividend increase, said Barclays analyst John Aiken.

“We would anticipate both these issues to be received reasonably favourably, although they should not be too much of a surprise to the market,” he said in a note to clients.

The bank raised its quarterly dividend payout 8 percent to 71 Canadian cents a share, from 66 Canadian cents a share.

Shares of National Bank were down 16 Canadian cents at C$80.71 in early trade on the Toronto Stock Exchange. (Reporting by Euan Rocha; Editing by Frank McGurty)

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