The Bank of Nova Scotia, or Scotiabank, announced in late November that it intended to sell its assets in nine Caribbean countries to Republic Financial Holdings Ltd.
Scotiabank’s withdrawal from nine of the 21 Caribbean countries that it operates in marks a turning point in its 129-year history in the region.
According to Bloomberg, a statement from Scotiabank notes that the decision to retreat from some Caribbean markets is part of a larger refocus on “core markets with significant scale.”
After the announcement, the Chairman of the CARICOM Competition Commission, Justice Christopher Blackman, released a statement noting the concerns of the Commission and Caribbean governments to the news.
Blackman said that the Competition Commission would continue to monitor the situation and assess
“The Commission takes this opportunity to highlight the need for strong national and regional competition rules and frameworks,” the statement reads. “Despite the need for these regulatory tools, the Commission stands ready to support the Member States of the CSME and financial sector regulators in analyzing the competition effects of the proposed acquisitions in their respective national or sub-regional jurisdictions.”
According to the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, the Commission’s duties include to “apply the rules of competition in respect of anti-competitive cross-border business conduct” and to “promote and protect competition in the Community and co-ordinate the implementation of the Community Competition Policy.”
There is also concern over Scotiabank’s business decision in Antigua and Barbuda.
According to Caribbean News Now, Scotiabank will not be able to sell any of its assets until the government gives its approval.
“Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne also wants assurances that local banks will be given priority to purchase the Scotiabank’s operations in Antigua, and that local customers’ investments and saving will be protected,” reports Caribbean News Now.