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CIBC poised to resume international growth

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After retrenching to Canada in recent years, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CM-T) is looking to grow again internationally, seeing opportunity to bolster its presence in foreign exchange markets.

Speaking at the bank’s annual meeting Thursday, Chief Executive Officer Gerry McCaughey outlined the areas he will look to for growth in the coming year, including corporate lending in Canada.

Looking internationally, he said CIBC wants to have “an appropriate presence in key international markets,” highlighting foreign exchange as a particular area for increased profit. His comments were an indication the bank is stepping cautiously back into international markets after focusing mostly on Canada since 2008.

CIBC is “pursuing additional opportunities in select areas in trading and sales – such as foreign exchange,” McCaughey said to investors in Winnipeg, where the meeting was held.

The bank has been adding currency strategists to its international operations in London, Hong Kong and New York this year.

Two weeks ago, CIBC hired Nick Mirtchev as director and foreign currency strategist in London, recruiting him from 3D Currency Management in the U.K. It was the latest in a series of foreign exchange-related hires at CIBC World Markets, the bank’s wholesale division.

Recent hires also include the addition of Andy Yeoh in Hong Kong from VTB Bank, to handle interest rate swaps and foreign exchange futures. While in Canada, the bank added Mark Downing from Citigroup Inc. to oversee U.S. dollar and Canadian-dollar swap and option trading.

Canada’s fifth-largest bank by assets, with more than $350 million under management, has spent the past several years whittling down its international operations and lowering its appetite for risk after a few high profile missteps, including a multibillion-dollar loss on U.S. mortgage securities.

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