Central Bank signals intent to approve RBC sale

Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) assets in the Eastern Caribbean – including this branch in the centre of St John’s, Antigua – look set to be sold to a consortium of indigenous banks. The Eastern Caribbean Central Bank revealed yesterday that it would approve the sale of RBC’s operations in several countries in the region. More inside. (Photo by Observer media)
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Governor of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB), Timothy Antoine, has confirmed that his organisation will be approving the sale of Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) operations in several territories in the Eastern Caribbean.

The sale includes operations in Antigua and Barbuda, the Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St Lucia, St Kitts and Nevis, and St Vincent and the Grenadines. 

Timothy Antoine

According to an ECCB release, the RBC assets will be sold to a consortium of indigenous banks within the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU) jurisdiction, namely the 1st National Bank of St Lucia; Antigua Commercial Bank; National Bank of Dominica; Bank of Montserrat; and Bank of Nevis.

Governor Antoine, accompanied by chair of the Monetary Council, St Kitts and Nevis’ Prime Minister Timothy Harris, made the disclosure during a press briefing following the conclusion of an ECCU Monetary Council meeting on February 12th at the ECCB headquarters in Basseterre, St Kitts.

The governor said that whereas an official announcement would be forthcoming in short order, he could confirm that the process was progressing smoothly.

“On the question of RBC, the ECCB has approved the application for the sale of the RBC operations in the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union to a consortium of indigenous or national banks.

“That process is now moving forward, and an announcement will be made in due course. But the idea is to conclude that transaction not too long from now. So that is moving forward.

“In fact, I can tell you only yesterday [February 11] we submitted to the finance ministers a vesting order or vesting orders, which is an important legal instrument to transfer assets from one bank or banking entity to another. So that process is moving forward,” GovernorAntoine said.

He also briefly addressed the recent announcement by Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) that its bid to sell a majority stake in FirstCaribbean International Bank Limited (FCIB) failed to meet the approval of Caribbean regulators.

“In terms of the sale of CIBC, I would simply confirm that regulators across the region considered it. Central Bank of Barbados is the lead regulator, based on the jurisdiction of CIBC FCIB.

“But all regulators, including the ECCB, were involved in that discussion, and came to that decision which has been conveyed and … the application was denied.”

In 2019, the Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS) completed the sale of much of its stake in the Eastern Caribbean to the Trinidad and Tobago-based Republic Bank. In October 2020, BNS declared that it had reached an arrangement for the sale of its services in Antigua and Barbuda to the Eastern Caribbean Amalgamated Bank (ECAB). The settlement is subject to regulatory permissions and other conventional closing requirements.

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