(Bloomberg News) Toronto-Dominion Bank said it will consider buying assets similar to its purchase of Chrysler Financial Corp. to bolster U.S. operations amid signs of a "modest" turnaround in the world's largest economy.
The $6.3 billion purchase of auto loans from Cerberus Capital Management LP last year is "a great example of an asset class that we really like," Chief Financial Officer Colleen Johnston said yesterday in an interview at Bloomberg's New York headquarters. "We're continuing to think about acquiring assets and we continue to look."
Canada's second-largest bank is betting on a recovery in the U.S., which accounted for about a quarter of the bank's revenue last year. The lender has spent more than $25 billion on U.S. acquisitions since 2004, building a series of branches that's bigger than its Canadian network, spanning from Maine to Florida.
"I think some of the legacy issues that have been plaguing the U.S. are actually starting to become a bit more positive," Johnston said. "You think about tighter credit, you think about the housing market being relatively weak -- we're starting to see some modest recovery in all of those areas."
The lender is unlikely to stray from the U.S. Northeast, with branches that offer free coin-counting machines, treats and water bowls for dogs. The Toronto-based bank said it will become the third-largest lender by branches in New York City in the next four years by adding about 50 more locations.
"We've got huge potential in the United States if you think about the major markets of New York, Philadelphia, Washington, Boston, Miami," said Johnston, 54. "We think there's lots of potential to intensify our presence in these major markets."
Toronto-Dominion began its U.S. expansion by buying a stake in Portland, Maine-based Banknorth Group Inc. and has made six additional purchases since then.
"We've only been in the U.S. for seven years," said Johnston. "We don't have aspirations to grow the bank on a national scale. We think this footprint makes sense for us."
Asset purchases such as Chrysler Financial help to narrow the gap between Toronto-Dominion's U.S. deposit base and its assets. Toronto-Dominion would also consider credit-card portfolios, Johnston said.