28 December, 2006 - Published 17:30 GMT

Barclays sells Caribbean stake

Barclays bank has completed its withdrawal from retail banking in the Caribbean with the sale of its stake in FirstCaribbean International.

The acquisition of the shares by CIBC hands the Canadian bank control of what it called the largest regionally-listed bank in the English-speaking Caribbean.

The sale of all but 4% of the 43.7% stake, worth about $989 million, is part of an agreement the two banks announced in June.

CIBC now owns 83% of FirstCaribbean, which was formed in 2002 out of the merged Caribbean operations of the two banks.

Both Barclays, the third biggest British bank, and CIBC have been operating in the region since the 1920s.

Analysts in London said Barclays will retain some non-retail Caribbean banking business but its focus is now elsewhere.

CIBC's president and CEO Gerry McCaughey said: "We look forward to participating in the future growth of FirstCaribbean in this dynamic region."

FirstCaribbean has over 3,500 staff, and 100 branches and banking centres in 17 countries.