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Scotia shoots Down Rumors of Sale

August 23
16:04 2019

Friday, August 23rd. 2019 –

Despite media reports that ScotiaBank was finalizing a deal to sell its assets in the country and close its Belize branches, the Reporter understands that no such deal is final nor has the Central Bank been informed of any such transaction. A ScotiaBank representative in Jamaica also told the media that Belize remains a part of the bank’s Caribbean network.

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A report from the Jamaica Gleaner this week quoted the head of Scotia Group Jamaica, David Noel, as saying that Belize remains a part of the bank’s regional operations. Noel, however, did not offer the newspaper any further details or confirm reports that Scotia Belize was being acquired by a Jamaican financial institution.

“As a matter of policy, we do not comment on market rumor and speculation…In Belize, our focus is on serving customers and providing products and solutions to meet their needs,” Noel said in a statement.

In a statement, the Belize Central Bank said: “Except with the prior written approval of Central Bank, no licensee under the Domestic Banks and Financial Institutions Act, section 27(1)(c), shall, by any means, sell or dispose of its banking or financial business. At this time, the management of ScotiaBank has not sought approval from the Central Bank for any such transaction.”

The regulator added that it is widely known in regional banking circles that ScotiaBank, the Canadian-based banking group, is implementing a strategy of exiting “non-core operations,” which extends to Caribbean and Latin American territories. The bank, however, has not advised the Central Bank of any proposal to do so in Belize or sell their operations to another bank. Should ScotiaBank announce such intentions, the Central Bank said it would carefully consider all factors.

The Reporter had posed the question of Scotia’s rumored closure to the Prime Minister several weeks ago during a phone interview, however, at the time PM Dean Barrow said he had not been informed of any such move. He further added that if indeed Scotia decided to do so, it would not be an indication of instability in Belize’s banking sector and would rather reflect Scotia’s position of curbing risk factors associated with banking in the region.

ScotiaBank has served Belize since 1968. ScotiaBank International is in the process of selling its Caribbean operations in nine markets to Republic Financial Holdings Limited of Trinidad and Tobago, but Belize is not among them. The US $123-million deal, announced last November, includes Scotia’s operations in Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Maarten, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

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