RBC buying HSBC Canada for $13.5B

Royal Bank of Canada has signed a deal to acquire HSBC Bank Canada for $13.5 billion in cash.

HSBC has 130 branches and 4,200 full-time equivalent employees in Canada

A customer uses an ATM at an HSBC brank in Turkey in this 2015 photo. London-based HSBC's international presence is a major selling point for the Royal Bank of Canada's decision to buy the bank's Canadian unit. (Kerem Uzel/Bloomberg)

Royal Bank of Canada has agreed to buy the Canadian arm of mutinational bank HSBC for $13.5 billion in cash.

RBC chief executive Dave McKay said the deal offers the opportunity to add a complementary business and client base.

"This also positions us as the bank of choice for commercial clients with international needs, newcomers to Canada and affluent clients who need global banking and wealth management capabilities," McKay said in a statement Tuesday.

"It will help us better serve global clients looking to invest and grow in Canada."

130 branches in Canada

"The deal makes strategic sense for both parties, and RBC will take the business to the next level," HSBC Group chief executive Noel Quinn said in a statement.

"Our group strategy is unchanged, and closing this transaction will free up additional capital to invest in growing our core businesses and to return to shareholders."

The Canadian arm of British-based HSBC has been up for sale this year because the parent company has been facing pressure from its largest shareholder, China's Ping An Insurance Group, to boost returns.

At more than $13 billion, the price tag makes the deal the most expensive one ever for a Canadian bank buying another Canadian-based bank, although the so-called Big Five routinely spend more than that on foreign acquisitions.

HSBC has had operations in Canada since 1981 and currently has approximately 130 branches, 4,200 employees, serving roughly 780,000 customers in Canada.

According to its most recent quarterly report, HSBC Canada had $125 billion worth of assets as of the end of June, and posted an operating income of more than $1.1 billion in the first half of this year. HSBC has about two per cent of all the bank deposits and mortgages in Canada.

WATCH | Impact on consumers: 

What does Royal buying HSBC mean for you?

4 months ago
Duration 6:05
Personal finance expert Rubina Ahmed-Haq discusses the implications for consumers of Royal Bank's proposed purchase of HSBC for $13 billion.

Carl De Souza, an analyst with ratings agency DBRS Morningstar says a major appeal of HSBC for Royal Bank is that the brand is so well known around the world. With Canada's immigration targets set to ramp up in the coming years, that gives RBC a leg up on all those new clients.

"The proposed acquisition does provide the bank with the opportunity to be the bank of choice for newcomers as well as commercial clients with international needs," he said in an interview. "They do see a huge opportunity for newcomers."

The deal is expected to close next year, pending regulatory and shareholder approval.

Because of the size of the merger, it needs the OK of numerous government agencies, including the Competition Bureau, the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions and the Department of Finance.

"In assessing a transaction, the minister of finance may take into account such factors as the rights and interests of consumers and business customers; the impact of the transaction on the level of competition in the sector; its consequences for the stability and integrity of the financial sector and public confidence in it," the department said in a statement.


Pete Evans

Senior Business Writer

Pete Evans is the senior business writer for Prior to coming to the CBC, his work has appeared in the Globe & Mail, the Financial Post, the Toronto Star, and Canadian Business Magazine. Twitter: @p_evans Email:

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