FirstCaribbean International Bank Limited has commenced operations, following receipt of all the necessary approvals to proceed with the combination of the retail, corporate and offshore segments in the Caribbean region (including the operations in The Bahamas) of CIBC Canada and Barclays Bank Plc. The combination brings together two complementary and leading financial services businesses in the Caribbean, offering customers enhanced products and improved and extended access to banking services.

Charles Pink, CEO of FirstCaribbean, said the creation of the entity represents *”a major step in the evolution of financial services in the region”.* The significant resources of the new company will allow FirstCaribbean to improve its customers’ experience and become a more significant player in the Caribbean economy. Mr. Pink expressed confidence that FirstCaribbean will bring greater benefits to customers, employees and the broader communities where it is located.

These benefits include:

– the stability of a financial institution with a combined history of over 225 years of regional experience and knowledge;

– as one of the best capitalised banks in the region, FirstCaribbean will ensure that customers will feel confident and secure in all their dealings;

– customers will have access to one of the largest branch and ATM networks of any bank in the region, with a broader range of products and services available through an increased range of delivery channels;

FirstCaribbean is present in 15 countries across the Caribbean, with a estimated $9.9 billion in assets and some 800,000 customers.

Standard & Poors (S&P) recently assigned a favourable A- credit rating to the new entity. Michael Mansoor, FirstCaribbean’s Executive Chairman, said the institution is extremely pleased with the S&P rating, indicating that this reflects the bank’s strong balance sheet, the solid backing of its heritage organisations as majority shareholders, and the increasing strength and stability of the jurisdictions in which it operates.

Minister of Financial Services and Investments, the Hon. Allyson Maynard-Gibson, said that the combination of Barclays and CIBC is significant, and demonstrates to the world that The Bahamas and the region are very serious about financial services.