BUSINESS

Scotiabank looking to expand its 'existing footprint,' says future CEO

05/31/2013 09:11 EDT | Updated 07/31/2013 05:12 EDT
TORONTO - Scotiabank will look within its "existing footprint" in Latin America and Asia when looking for acquisitions, said Brian Porter, who was tapped Friday as the bank's next chief executive.

"You're not going to see this bank go to Africa, you're not going to see us go to Europe," the former head of Scotiabank's international operations said in an interview.

"We're in the two high-growth areas of the world, economically, in Asia-Pacific and Latin America. We're very fortunate to be there and we're going to continue to grow our businesses there."

The bank (TSX:BNS) announced Friday that Porter will succeed Rick Waugh when he retires on Nov. 1, after a decade in the role and 43 years with the bank.

He takes over the country's most international bank with extensive operations in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Scotiabank has also been building operations in Asia. Earlier the year, the bank announced a fund management joint venture with the Bank of Beijing received regulatory approval for a license to operate in China.

The Canadian bank said it was the first fund management license issued in China under a new round of pilot programs allowing commercial banks to set up fund management companies.

Scotiabank has also been awaiting approval for its bid to buy just under 20 per cent of the Bank of Guangzhou — the maximum stake allowed under Chinese law — since September 2011.

Porter said the bank will be patient.

"We're not obsessed," said Porter. "We don't come in every day thinking about closing the bank of Guangzhou. We realize these transactions take a lot of time."

Earlier this year, Waugh hinted the bank's patience was wearing thin, saying that there are a "world of opportunities" for the bank and that it would find another place to put its capital if needed.

Porter said Friday a change of government in the city of Guangzhou is likely the cause of the delay.

"They're getting comfortable in their new roles and assessing the importance of this transaction," he said.

"One thing we know about China is that decisions have a longer tail on them than they would in North America or other jurisdictions."

Porter has been president of the bank since last November, a signal widely seen that he would be named Waugh's successor.

Waugh will remain a director of the bank and become deputy chairman until next January.

Scotiabank is the second major Canadian bank this year to announce a changing of the guard at the top — although at a pace calculated to reassure investors and customers of an orderly transition.

TD Bank (TSX:TD) announced in April that its CEO, Ed Clark, will retire in November 2014.

Clark's successor will be Bharat Masrani, 56, who has been instrumental in building TD's personal and commercial banking presence in the United States.