After Latin America Push Pays Off

Bank of Nova Scotia’s push into Latin America helped fuel record earnings from international banking in the fourth quarter. It’s making a retreat in some countries nevertheless.

The bank is selling operations in nine nations in the Caribbean -- a region where it’s done business for 129 years.

“Exiting these non-core operations is consistent with a strategy that began five years ago to sharpen our focus, increase scale in core geographies and businesses, improve earnings quality and reduce risk,” Chief Executive Officer Brian Porter said Tuesday on a conference call.

Scotiabank has been focusing its international expansion on four Latin American countries -- Mexico, Colombia, Peru and Chile. That paid off in the fiscal fourth quarter, with the international-banking division posting record earnings and the biggest profit gain among the Toronto-based lender’s three main segments.

The Caribbean pullback isn’t a full retreat: The bank has operations in a dozen other Caribbean markets and expects to finalize a takeover in the first quarter for Banco Dominicano del Progreso SA in the Dominican Republic. Scotiabank has more than 7,700 employees across the Caribbean and 1.5 million customers.

“We expect to remain in our core markets across the Caribbean,” Porter said.

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