Desjardins surplus earnings up; financial co-operative's assets rise to $212B

LEVIS, Que. – The Desjardins financial co-operative, which offers many of the services provided by banks and insurance companies, had $351 million in surplus earnings before member dividends in its fourth quarter.

That was up 14 per cent from $307 million a year earlier.

For the full year, Desjardins had $1.53 billion in surplus earnings in 2013, up 1.7 per cent from $1.504 billion in 2012.

It made a provision for $171 million in member dividends for 2013, down from $279 million in 2012, while its provision for credit losses increased to $277 million from $241 million in 2012.

Desjardins also returned $81 million to the community through donations, sponsorships and scholarships last year, compared with $85 million in 2012.

Desjardins has historically been focused mainly in Quebec where it operates an extensive branch network that make it one of the province’s leading suppliers of financial services.

However, Desjardins also operates other businesses outside the province and it has recently made acquisitions that expand its presence in other parts of Canada.

In January, Desjardins said it will acquire State Farm’s Canadian business, which will be operated as a separate unit with 1,700 employees and 500 agents.

The transaction, expected to close in January 2015, would make Desjardins one of Canada’s second-largest providers of property and casualty insurance, which includes home and auto coverage.

Desjardins says it will allocate about $700 million to support growth of the property and casualty insurance business.

In addition, its life and health subsidiary, Desjardins Financial Security and other units will allocate $250 million for the State Farm Canada life insurance, mutual fund, lending and living benefits operations.

As of Dec. 31, Desjardins Group had $212 billion of assets, up 7.7 per cent or $15.2 billion for the year.