Hakrinbank of Suriname says it is seeking a "strategic partnership" with the Trinidad-based Republic Bank Limited amid reports that the Desi Bouterse government is planning to sell some of its controlling shares in the local financial institution.
State-owned Hakrinbank said it is in negotiations with Republic Bank and that the talks "are progressing smoothly".
Hakrinbank made the announcement about the strategic partnership in its biannual report indicating that operational costs and investments expenditures have been increasing significantly.
According to the bank, competition in the local financial sector has increased and Hakrinbank said that its policies were aimed at improving the quality of its service, increasing efficiency and profitability.
But legislators have warned against the move citing the international financial crisis.
Deputy Speaker of the House and a former Hakrinbank board of director, Ruth Wijdenbosch, said that given the present international financial crisis it would be inappropriate to sell the assets of the local bank.
Wijdenbosch has called on the government to inform Parliament and the public as to the policy to privatise the bank.
"The legislative should have a say in this. These are assets of the Surinamese people", the opposition legislator said.
If the acquisition talks are successful, Republic Bank will be the second regional bank to enter the Surinamese market. It will follow the former Royal Bank of Trinidad and Tobago that was involved in the takeover of the ABN-Amro Bank here a few decades ago.
Republic Bank is a publicly traded bank principally owned by the Trinidadian government. The bank is now worth TT$51 billion by total assets, inclusive of TT$17 billion of cash.