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.

Click here to receive news via email from Caribbean360. (View sample)