CIBC Halts $797 Million Caribbean Sale as Regulators Reject Deal

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(Bloomberg) – Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce said its planned $797 million sale of a stake in its Caribbean unit won’t proceed after regulators rejected the deal, leaving the bank stuck with a business that had been declining in value.

CIBC announced the sale of the two-thirds stake in CIBC FirstCaribbean to a company run by Colombian billionaire Jaime Gilinski in November 2019. The deal, which would have left CIBC with a 25% stake in the Barbados-based bank, valued FirstCaribbean at about $1.2 billion, less than half of its $2.8 billion value when CIBC took over most of the business.

“While this transaction would have supported FirstCaribbean’s long-term growth prospects, it is only one way of creating value for stakeholders,” Harry Culham, CIBC’s head of capital markets who also oversees FirstCaribbean, said Wednesday in a statement announcing regulators’ rejection of the deal.

CIBC didn’t detail the reasons the deal was rejected, or say which Caribbean regulators failed to approve it. FirstCaribbean will focus on optimizing its business and enhancing efficiency, Toronto-based CIBC said in the statement.

CIBC had been seeking to scale back its presence in the Caribbean, where it had been offering banking services since 1920. The Canadian lender combined its operations in the region with Barclays Plc’s in 2002 to create FirstCaribbean, and four years later purchased the British bank’s 44% stake in the operation for $988.7 million.

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