The Caricom Competition Commission has "noted" and "is monitoring" the proposed US$123 million Republic Financial Holdings Ltd and Scotiabank transaction which has garnered mixed reactions from the region.
In a release yesterday, the commission said it noted the concerns of the banks customers and governments across the region regarding Scotiabank's announcement, last Tuesday, that it would sell its assets in the Eastern Caribbean, Guyana and St Maarten to Republic. The Canadian bank also sold it life insurance portfolio to Barbados' Sagicor Financial Ltd for US$96 million. Later that day, the governments of Antigua and Barbuda and Guyana issued strong statements, wary of the development. On Tuesday, at a Caricom Single Market Economy meeting in Port of Spain, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley suggested that Scotiabank's actions could signify a "voluntary de-risking" in the region, while his Barbadian counterpart, Mia Mottley, acknowledged that the Caribbean needs to be more competitive.
The commission said it would continue to monitor these developments in the banking and insurance sectors. Any impact on the community market by the proposed acquisitions will be assessed in accordance with the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas.
There is a need for strong national and regional competition rules and frameworks, the commission said, but despite that, it will support member states and financial sector regulators in the "competition effects" of the proposed acquisition in respective territories.
"As always, the commission remains committed to a process that is fair and transparent in the determination of any regulatory matter where the interests of both business and consumers must be considered," the release said.