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February 4, 2009

Canadian bank doubles stake in Thai bank
Bank of Nova Scotia has again expanded its international presence by doubling its stake in a Thai bank for about C$270 million ($216 million).

Reuters quoted Canada's third-largest bank as saying Tuesday that it has acquired an additional 24 percent stake in Thailand's Thanachart Bank, a subsidiary of Thanachart Capital.

That raises Scotiabank's stake to 49 percent, up from 24.98 percent, in Thailand's eighth-largest bank by assets and leading auto-finance lender.

Currently, Thanachart Capital Public Company Ltd is the largest shareholder of Thanachart Bank with a 50.9 percent interest. Retail investors hold the remaining 0.1 percent.

"The Thai market has solid fundamentals with good long-term growth prospects. Scotiabank's increased investment in Thanachart Bank is a great opportunity for us to capitalise on the strength of the Thai market," Rob Pitfield, group head of international banking at Scotiabank, said in a statement.

The Canadian bank bills itself as the most international of its Canadian peers, with a long-term strategy of operating in some 50 countries around the world. Scotiabank's operations span 11 countries in the Asia-Pacific region, and the company has had a presence in Thailand since it opened a representative office in Bangkok in 1981.

Thanachart Bank plans to open 40 more branches by the end of the year to increase its total network to 255. It will also concentrate on maintaining its market share in automobile financing.

Thanachart Bank said it aims to grow its lending portfolio and step into corporate finance, housing loans, and trade finance.

Scotiabank's increased stake in Thanachart, now at the regulatory limit for foreign banks in Thailand, also gives it a third seat on the Thai bank's board of directors.

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