Vive Le Canada

Tories, Bloc would back mergers for banks
Date: Monday, April 04 2005
Topic: Canadian Politics

--Guess Gilles Duceppe isn't a man of the people, eh?

Tories, Bloc would back mergers for banks

ottawa—Canada's two largest opposition parties say they support mergers among the country's five biggest banks, removing one of the main hurdles for Finance Minister Ralph Goodale as he prepares new guidelines for the banking industry.

Finance critics of the Bloc Québécois and Conservative Party said in interviews they wouldn't oppose mergers as long as competition isn't undermined. Goodale last month said the guidelines for bank mergers have been delayed by a divided Parliament, where his governing Liberal Party has a minority.

"I don't have a particular problem with it," said Monte Solberg, finance critic for the main opposition Conservatives. "I think what's important is that people still feel like they've got competition."

Guy Côté, deputy finance critic for the Bloc Québécois, the third-biggest party in Parliament after the Liberals and Conservatives, said he thinks the government will announce guidelines for bank mergers in September.

"We are not against any kind of merger," Côté said.

"The two main things is to make sure there wouldn't be any jobs that would be lost and that the services into the different rural areas would be maintained."

Opposition backing would make it easier for the government to remove a ban on bank mergers, which has been in place since 1998 when the Royal Bank of Canada tried to merge with the Bank of Montreal.

"I don't think ... (the reduced opposition) is going to change the situation,'' John Hunkin, chief executive of CIBC, said during the banking conference.

Tony Comper, president and CEO at BMO, said his bank "doesn't need a merger to be successful."

Côté and Solberg said they have yet to be contacted by Goodale on the subject.

from the star's wire services

This article comes from Vive Le Canada

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