TD Would Consider Buying ‘High Quality’ U.S. Assets, CFO Says

Toronto-Dominion Bank is open to buying “strategically compelling” financial assets in the U.S. even as it remains focused on internal growth, Chief Financial Officer Colleen Johnston said.

“If there are asset acquisitions out there that are high quality and would create sustainable value for TD, we would consider them,” Johnston, 57, said Thursday in a phone interview. “We do have an opportunity in the U.S. because we have a very large deposit franchise.”

Toronto-Dominion and Wells Fargo & Co. are said to be interested in U.S. commercial-lending businesses that General Electric Co. is selling as the firm whittles down its finance arm, people familiar with the process have said. GE has been selling about $200 billion of finance assets as it exits most of the lending business to refocus on manufacturing.

Toronto-Dominion made inroads in U.S. auto financing in 2011 when it bought $6.3 billion of loans in its acquisition of Chrysler Financial Corp. from Cerberus Capital Management LP. The Toronto-based bank’s executives have said before that they’d be interested buying similar assets in the U.S.

“If there are acquisitions of any type that are very financially and strategically compelling, we would always consider them if it made sense for our shareholders,” said Johnston, who didn’t comment specifically on the GE assets.

Toronto-Dominion, Canada’s largest lender by assets, has spent about $17 billion building a branch network from Maine to Florida in the past decade. The bank also has agreed to buy U.S. credit-card portfolios, including those of Target Corp. and Nordstrom Inc.

“Our primary focus at TD is on organic growth,” Johnston said. “We have lots of opportunities to grow the bank and optimize our operations. We’ve had a lot of growth -- we’ve quadrupled our earnings in the last 10 years, so we’ve got lots of opportunities organically.”

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