CARICOM Competition Body Says Scotiabank Sale Could Have Anti-Competitive Effects in At Least Three Countries

PARAMARIBO, Suriname, Thursday April 4, 2019 – At least three Caribbean Community (CARAICOM) countries
could feel anti-competitive effects if Scotiabank is successful in selling its assets
in the region.

That’s the warning from the CARICOM Competition Commission (CCC) following
a preliminary assessment on the proposed sale of Scotiabank’s banking assets in
nine territories – Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, St
Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Maarten, and St Vincent and the Grenadines – to Republic
Financial Holdings Ltd for US$123 million, and its life insurance operations in
Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago to Sagicor Financial Corporation.

The CCC had previously
advised that it would monitor the developments in the banking and insurance
sectors and that any impact on CARICOM by the proposed transaction would be
assessed in accordance with the provisions of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas.
That preliminary assessment has now been completed.

“Such
assessment indicates that the proposed transaction or parts thereof could
possibly have anticompetitive effects in at least three Member States in the
Community,” the Commission’s Chairman Justice Christopher Blackman said in a statement,
although he did not identify the CARICOM nations.

“The Commission
remains cognizant of the provisions of Article 175 of the RTC, and at this time
reminds national competition authorities and Member States of this critical
provision. The Commission also informs that it shall approach those national
competition authorities and sector regulators in affected Member States in
accordance with Article 176(1), for the conduct of preliminary examinations of
proposed transaction between the enterprises.”

In furtherance
of its commitment to fair and transparent processes for both the business
community and consumers, the CCC says, it will continue to monitor this
activity and will inform as appropriate on further progress of this matter in
affected Member States.

Since Scotiabank
announced the proposed sale last November, it has faced stiff opposition from and
criticism by some regional governments.

Antigua and Barbuda’s
Prime Minister Gaston Browne has been particularly vocal in opposing the move, and
as recently as last week reiterated that his government would not issue the vesting order to facilitate the sale of the bank’s operations
in the twin-island nation.

“They are not getting it. We are very firm on that,” he told Parliament.

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