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Canadian banks first call for strapped European lenders

A TD Canada Trust location in Toronto. (Deborah Baic/The Globe and Mail)

Deborah Baic/The Globe and Mail

Canadian banks, having survived the last leg of the financial crisis largely unscathed, have become a first call for troubled banks now looking to offload assets, bankers say.

Bankers and bank executives say assets of all types are being shopped to Canadian banks as struggling rivals, mainly in Europe, look to raise capital.

Everything from loan books to businesses in sought-after areas such as asset-management is on the block, often at distressed prices.

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So why so little action from the Canadian banks, given their position of strength?

So far, the Canadian banks (Bank of Montreal , CIBC , Toronto-Dominion , Scotiabank are being very picky, in part because of the regulatory focus on capital standards. Just as European banks need to raise capital, Canadian banks are reluctant to tax their own capital bases. What's more, the Office of the Superintendant of Financial Institutions is reluctant to let them.

But expect to see some deals, bankers say. They may not be blockbusters, but Canadian banks are unlikely to let the opportunity to make key additions slip by.

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