Talks Ongoing to Amalgamate OECS Indigenous Banks

By: Ken Richards

Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) Governor Timothy Antoine is continuing to push for the amalgamation of local banks in the OECS sub-region.

He spoke to the issue recently in Dominica, and again returned to the subject in Anguilla. Antoine cited two examples of amalgamation in Anguilla and Antigua and Barbuda.

“So we now have 12 national banks, a year ago we had 14. There’s two in Anguilla that came together as one, everybody knows that, what many people don’t know is that in Antigua and Barbuda, not far away, we have ABIB which is now part of ECAB and before that we had Bank of Antigua which is how ECAB was established. So there you see in Antigua and Barbuda there has been amalgamation, ECAB is actually making profit already,” he said.

Antoine said there are ongoing amalgamation talks in some parts of the OECS.

“In St Lucia and St Vincent talks have been going and among some other countries which I won’t name now but which I’m aware, there are also discussions going on about coming together. If you ask the other bank managers many of the indigenous banks they will tell you that it is very important for them to be able to not just only survive but grow and compete with international banks for market share. Now notice, that coming together may mean a smaller number of banks but it does not mean a drop in market share, if they come together well they can not only protect that market share but potentially grow that market share and even buy an international bank in the future, that’s possible, but they are not going to get to do it individually,” he explained.

The ECCB governor indicated that there is amalgamation going on outside of the Caribbean, even among bigger banks.