The Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, had a cordial and productive discussion this morning with senior representatives of the Republic Financial Holdings Limited (RFHL) and representatives of Scotiabank on the purchase by Republic Financial Holdings of Scotiabank’s operations in the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU).
The RFHL delegation comprised Chairman, Mr. Ronald Harford and Mr. Ian De Souza, Principal Advisor at Advice Financial Company Limited (AdFIN). Scotiabank was represented by Mr. Brendan King, Senior Vice President of International Banking, and Mr. David Parks, Managing Director for the Eastern Caribbean. Mrs. Hilary Hazel, the Financial Secretary in the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis, and Ms. Sherelle Hobson, Director in the Office of the Prime Minister, supported Prime Minister Harris at this morning’s meeting.
RFHL announced last November that it had entered into an agreement to acquire Scotiabank’s banking operations in Guyana, St. Maarten and the Eastern Caribbean territories of Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
During the constructive discussions, the Prime Minister who is also Minister of Finance was told of RFHL’s commitment to welcoming all of Scotiabank’s staff into the Republic Group. This would increase the Group’s staff complement to over 6,000 persons.
“Not one single staff member of Scotiabank will be displaced,” Mr. Ian De Souza, Principal Advisor at Advice Financial Company Limited (AdFIN), said. “They will not be affected in any form or fashion. Their remuneration will remain whole,” Mr. De Souza added.
“It was very important to us that our customers and employees be handled with care,” Mr. Brendan King, Senior Vice President of International Banking at Scotiabank, said, adding that this was important in order to ensure that there “is no disruption of any kind.” Mr. King further stated that Scotiabank and Republic Financial Holdings Limited (RFHL) “share the same core values,” and added that, “Our reputation is very important to us.”
Mr. Ronald Harford, the Chairman of RFHL, followed up, saying, “It is very necessary to protect our reputation. We will practice those high standards that Scotiabank has practiced.”
The RFHL Chairman mentioned that his company is very skilled at Anti-Money Laundering and Know Your Customer procedures, and also proudly shared that it has correspondent banking relationships with an extensive range of major international banks in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Europe, and elsewhere.
Mr. Harford said the acquisition would create “a strong regional champion” with US$15 billion in assets up from US$10.5 billion. Profits would also increase, post-acquisition, from US$198 million to US$270 million.
The Republic Group has served the Caribbean for 181 years, having opened its first office in Port of Spain, Trinidad, with the establishment of Colonial Bank in 1837. It has branches in Grenada and St. Lucia.
The company says it has financed over US$268 million in support of significant nation-building projects across the Caribbean since 2001 – this sum includes US$7.4 million for the Carifesta Housing Development in St. Kitts in the year 2005.
“The future of these islands is bright,” Mr. Ronald Harford, the Chairman of Republic Financial Holdings Limited (RFHL), told Prime Minister Harris.
“We are seeing an influx of high-end tourism, and I see you’re ahead of the game,” Mr. Harford told the Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, adding that, “It [high-end tourism] has brought the executive jets and the mega-yachts to you.”
The RFHL Chairman commended Prime Minister Harris on his expert management of the economy, and said that based on the state of the roads and infrastructure that he has seen while here, as well as the high level of construction, there appears to be “a lot of faith in the future of your country.”