Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : April 3rd 2014 Contents BG4| COVER STORY
BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt APRIL 2014 • WEEK ONE
Dressed in his starched white
shirt and conservative
banker s tie, Suresh Sookoo,
the CEO of RBC Caribbean,
seems comfortable and
relaxed in his corner office,
with its picturesque ceiling to floor view of
Queen s Royal College and the hills of St Ann s.
But even the calm, seemingly mild-man-
nered banking executive, must have got per-
turbed by the thumbs-down reviews by some
Trinbagonians of RBC service changes as well
as the negative interpretation of the sale in
January of RBC Jamaica to Sagicor for US$84
The sale of the RBC franchise in Jamaica,
the English-speaking Caribbean s largest mar-
ket, even led to speculation that a global bank
based in London was planning to buy RBC
On that issue, Sookoo is unequivocal: "We
are not in discussion with any other bank in
the Caribbean about selling anything."
But he admits that the bank is seeing tough
times in Eastern Caribbean countries, which
are taking a long time to turnaround, and have
very little limited fiscal flexibility.
The bank is planning some restructuring
up the islands, but part of that is due to the
fact that the rebranding after the acquisition
was never done in some islands.
Sookoo said: "We re not exiting any market,
but we have to deal with the fact that, in
Grenada, I have five branches. Do I need five
branches in the current environment? So that s
where some the restructuring in the Eastern
Caribbean is going to take place....Where we
have two branches, one RBTT, one RBC, which
we should have dealt with a long time ago;
we re going to deal with now."
The bank is also planning some branch con-
solidation in Barbados.
RBC declared losses at both its T&T sub-
sidiary and in the consolidated results of RBC
Caribbean for the 12-month period ending
October 31, 2013.
The Canadian-owned bank declared a loss
after taxation of $72 million at RBC Royal
Bank (T&T) Ltd for 2013, compared with a
loss of $34 million for the same period in 2012.
The 2013 results for the T&T bank were
impacted by employee costs relating to restruc-
turing and one-time deferred compensation
benefits of $268 million.
Without these one-time charges, the bank
would have reported an after-tax profit of
$129 million or $163 million higher than in
2012, according to Sookoo, who is the chairman
of the T&T bank.
For RBC Financial (Caribbean), the loss in
2013 was $29.7 million, compared with a profit
of $96.2 million in 2012. Again, the bank
absorbed $488 million in employee-related
costs as well as a one-time tax adjustment of
$148 million relating to its Jamaica operations.
The $488 million costs is related to a court
case that RBC Caribbean lost in Port-of-Spain
last year involving the interpretation of pension
law going back.
The losses that RBC experienced in the
Caribbean in 2013, compare with the strong
performance of the banking group before it
was re-acquired by the Canadian bank in 2008
for US$2.2 billion.
For the 12 months ended March 31, 2008,
the RBTT Financial group declared profit after-
tax of $938.7 million. The profitability of RBC s
Caribbean franchise has declined for each year
following the acquisition by the Canadians of
the Port-of-Spain-headquartered bank.
Sookoo agrees that, with the benefit of
hindsight, it appears that RBC acquired RBTT
Financial at exactly the wrong time as the deal
closed just before the collapse of Lehman
Brothers and the onset of the global financial
Referring to his Canadian bosses, he said:
"If you ask them, they would either have not
done it or paid a much different price."
Asked where did the decision to sell the
bank back to the Canadians come from, Sookoo
said it came from the leadership of RBTT at
that time and was cleared at the board level.
He said everybody who sold their RBTT
shares benefited. The board of RBTT "engaged
the best advice to ensure we followed proper
governance guidelines" in terms certain direc-
tors who recused themselves from delibera-
"Part of that answer was RBTT had out-
Sookoo: We did not deal with change management properly
We have learnt
Continued on page 5
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