Toronto-Dominion Bank and Royal Bank of Canada are among lenders that would find HSBC Holdings PLC's Canadian operations attractive if they were for sale, BMO Nesbitt Burns Inc. analyst Sohrab Movahedi said.
"If HSBC Canada were up for sale, we believe the Canadian banks are well positioned and all are likely very interested to capitalize on such a rare in-market opportunity," Movahedi said Thursday in a note to clients.
European financial-services firms including Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC and Standard Life PLC are selling North American assets, prompting analysts to speculate on opportunities for domestic banks. Standard Life's Sept. 3 agreement to sell its Canadian unit to Manulife Financial Corp. for about $4-billion led Canaccord Genuity analyst Gabriel Dechaine to ask whether HSBC might revisit options for its Canadian unit.
"When scanning the landscape of foreign-owned financial services companies in Canada, HSBC stands out," Dechaine said in a Sept. 4 note, adding that Royal Bank, TD and Bank of Nova Scotia would be the "likeliest acquirers."
Kimberly Flood, an HSBC spokeswoman in Toronto, said Canada is a "priority growth market" and that its operations in the country aren't for sale. The lender has 145 branches and more than 5,500 workers in Canada, she said.
"We agree that we're a very strong, well-run organization in one of the world's best markets, which is exactly why we have no intention of selling," Flood said in a telephone interview from Toronto.
Diane Flanagan, a Scotiabank spokeswoman, didn't have an immediate comment. TD's Crystal Jongeward and Royal Bank of Canada's Jason Graham said they don't comment on speculation. All of the firms are based in Toronto.