Bank of Nova Scotia, Canada’s third-largest lender, said Chief Executive Officer Richard Waugh will retire on Nov. 1 and be succeeded by President Brian Porter.
Waugh, 65, will remain on the bank’s board and take on the role of deputy chairman until Jan. 31, the company said today in a statement. Porter, who has headed international banking and overseen risk at the Toronto-based lender, said he plans no “big deviation.”
“The bank has a great strategy and a great track record, and I don’t envision any significant changes,” Porter, 55, said in a telephone interview. “We’re not going to the U.S. retail market, we’re not going to Africa, we’ve got tons of opportunity within our existing footprint.”
Waugh relinquished the president’s role to Porter seven months ago, paving the way for an eventual transition to the top job. Porter led the international banking business from 2010 until his appointment as president last year, and previously was group head of risk and treasury from 2008 to 2010 and chief risk officer between 2006 and 2008.
“The Canadian banks and Scotiabank in particular are really well positioned,” said Porter, who joined Scotiabank in 1981. “European banks have to deal with the problems in their local markets, the U.S. banks have recapitalized quite well, but they’ve still got a lot of litigation issues and some regulatory issues they have to deal with.”
Porter will step into a position held by Waugh for almost a decade. Waugh began his Scotiabank career as a branch teller in Winnipeg, Manitoba, in 1970. He rose through the ranks, taking on senior roles until becoming president and CEO in 2003.
Waugh led the lender through the financial crisis and added acquisitions in Latin America and Asia while expanding domestically through Canadian takeovers. During his tenure, Scotiabank had an average annual return of 11 percent and a total return of about 169 percent, outperforming Canada’s benchmark Standard & Poor’s/TSX Composite Index, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
“The stock’s near multiyear highs, the Canadian banking sector is strong, he steered the company away from financial disaster, so why not leave on a high note?” Barry Schwartz, portfolio manager at Baskin Financial Services in Toronto, said in a phone interview.
The lender fell 0.3 percent to C$59.04 at 4 p.m. in Toronto trading. The shares have returned 2.8 percent this year, the second-best performer on the eight-company S&P/TSX Commercial Banks Index.
Scotiabank announced takeovers totaling more than $13 billion while Waugh was CEO, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Deals included the C$3.1 billion ($3 billion) takeover of ING Groep NV’s Canadian operations in November and the $1 billion purchase of a 51 percent stake in Colombia’s Banco Colpatria Red Multibanca Colpatria SA last year, its largest foreign purchase.
“He’s been a solid backer of the company’s strategy, which is the sustenance and development of overseas operations, particularly in the southern Americas,” Michael Smedley, who helps manage C$1 billion at Morgan Meighen & Associates in Toronto, said in a telephone interview. “They’ve also done quite an amount of acquisitions under his watch, expanding the company.”
Waugh said he was “on the downward slope” when asked about his retirement and accomplishments in a May 21 interview at Bloomberg’s Canada Summit.
“I’ve been in the bank for so long, so it’s a long path, but it’s the ability to come to a good bank and make it even better,” Waugh said.
Waugh said he’s most proud of Scotiabank’s ability “to execute well with discipline.”
“We’ve also made sense at seizing the opportunity,” he said. “This crisis has not been easy for any of us, but we’ve been able to seize the opportunity broadly based within the bank, and we can all be proud of that.”