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Apr 9, 2019

Laurentian CEO touts Canadian banks’ ‘resiliency’ amid short calls

Laurentian Bank CEO on short-sellers: Canada's banks are doing the right things


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The chief executive officer of Laurentian Bank of Canada says he’s not worried about the bearish case being made against the country’s lenders.

In an interview with BNN Bloomberg, François Desjardins said Canada’s banks have a strong credit history and will be able to fend off economic headwinds.

“I think banks are strong. I think, especially Canadian banks, have a lot of resiliency and, in our case in particular, have a great credit history of being able to withstand any economic cycle,” Desjardins told Amanda Lang on Tuesday.

Desjardins’ comments come after a number of CEOs from Canada’s bank sector, including Bank of Nova Scotia’s Brian Porter and Toronto-Dominion Bank’s Bharat Masrani, have dismissed fears about the country’s major lenders in recent weeks. 

Last month, a Veritas Investment Research analyst recommended clients lighten up on the Big Six bank stocks on his expectation that their loan loss provisions will rise. Meanwhile, Steve Eisman, the money manager made famous by the book The Big Short, told BNN Bloomberg’s Catherine Murray on Tuesday that he has taken short positions in Royal Bank of Canada, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce and Laurentian. 

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Desjardins said he’s not concerned about the bank’s loan losses, and credited Canada’s policymakers for limiting borrowers’ ability to overextend themselves in a low-interest rate environment. 

He added that while investors shorting stocks is part of the market’s “normal process,” he is wary of it sending the wrong message.

“I think where we have to be careful though is when this process may be used to short organizations and then create negative hype by social media or other means,” Desjardins said.