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ANALYSIS: Canadian banks are increasing their footprint in the global financial system, as they continue to expand operations while their international competitors focus on repairing their balance sheets.
The country's six largest banks have spent $37.8 billion US on about 100 acquisitions since the financial crisis in 2008, according to a new report by Bloomberg Markets magazine.
CIBC (CM-T) is ranked third on the magazine's second annual ranking of the world's strongest banks. Three other banks made it into the top ten -- Toronto Dominion (4) (TD-T), National Bank (5) (NA-T) and the Royal Bank of Canada (6) (RY-T).
The Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS-T) took the 18th spot, while Bank of Montreal (BMO-T) was 22nd.
No other country's financial sector performed as a strong as Canada's, Bloomberg says. Only three banks from the U.S. made the top 20 -- JPMorgan Chase (13), PNC Financial Services Group Inc. (17) and BB&T Corp. (20), while only four European banks were included in the ranking.
Bloomberg considered banks with at least $100 billion in assets and weighed and combined five criteria, comparing Tier 1 capital with risk-weighted assets, for example, and nonperforming assets with total assets.
The strong showing from Canadian banks comes as they increasingly acquire assets outside of the country. Canadian banks spent $14.4 billion in 2011 alone on acquisitions -- with many of those assets based in the U.S.
Last year, TD bought Chrysler Financial Corp. from Cerberus Capital Management for $6.3 billion. And in 2008, TD bought Commerce Bancorp of Cherry Hill, New Jersey for $7.1 billion, giving it a major foothold in the eastern U.S. market.
Bank of Montreal bought Marshall & Ilsley Corp., a Milwaukee-based bank, for more than $4 billion, adding to the Chicago-based Harris Bank that it bought in the 1980s.
RBC, which offloaded its struggling U.S. assets last year, bought the 50 percent of RBC Dexia Investor Services it didn't already own from Banque for $1.1 billion in cash.