TORONTO, April 8 Bank of Nova Scotia
has shifted its growth focus away from Asia, and will instead
drive expansion in four Latin American countries as the bank
seeks to focus on "fewer things," Chief Executive Brian Porter
said on Tuesday.
The Canadian bank, which operates in more than 50 countries,
mostly in Latin America and Asia, will seek growth in Peru,
Colombia, Mexico and Chile, where Porter sees strong economic
fundamentals and sound regulatory systems.
Porter has singled out those four countries at times since
he took over as CEO in November from predecessor Rick Waugh.
But his comments on Tuesday at the bank's annual general
meeting in Calgary - where he also prioritized cost cutting -
made clear the bank is narrowing its focus from its days under
Waugh, who also emphasized growth in Asia along with Latin
"In keeping with our increased focus on fewer things, going
forward our primary emphasis is on Latin America," Porter said.
He said the bank was "comfortable with (its) footprint in
Latin America," suggesting that he does not plan to enter new
countries in the region.
Under Waugh, Scotiabank made more than C$10 billion worth of
acquisitions since the financial crisis, including the C$3.1
billion ($2.84 billion) purchase of the Canadian online arm of
Dutch lender ING Groep and the $1 billion purchase of
51 percent of Colombia's Banco Colpatria, both in 2012.
However, the bank's attempt to buy a 20 percent stake in
China's Bank of Guangzhou fell apart last year after Chinese
authorities decided against proceeding with the C$719 million
Scotiabank's international operations are considered a
strength of the bank, but the unit has produced middling results
over the past two years due to higher costs and softness in some
Porter said the bank would work to expand its credit card
business, reduce its structural costs and also wring
efficiencies from recent acquisitions.
"We need to make greater use of more powerful levers. By
that I mean innovative investments in technology and process
improvements," he said.
"In short, our operations need to be faster, better and
($1 = 1.0930 Canadian dollars)
(Reporting by Cameron French; editing by Matthew Lewis)