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Updated: Mon, 12 Aug 2013 10:51:26 GMT | By CBC News, cbc.ca

CIBC rejects new TD Bank-Aeroplan partnership



CIBC rejects new TD Bank-Aeroplan partnership

Toronto-Dominion Bank's new partnership with customer loyalty program partner Aeroplan isn't valid, says CIBC, which has been the company's points credit card partner for 22 years.

- Credit card reward programs carry risks

TD announced Monday morning that it has reached a 10-year contract with Aimia, the Montreal-based company that operates the reward program, starting in January 2014.

Aimia gave CIBC an Aug. 9 deadline to either match or reject TD's offer. On Friday, however, CIBC advised the company the notice and agreement provided were invalid because they fail to comply with Aimia's current contractual obligations to CIBC, said Kevin Dove, the bank's head of external communications, in a statement today.

"Ongoing active discussions" are still taking place among the three key players, said Dove. They revolve around CIBC's desire to sell about half of its Aerogold portfolio to TD. The half would mostly be composed of clients who only hold CIBC Aerogold credit cards and have no other banking services with the company.

Under this proposed deal, CIBC would still keep Aerogold credit card accounts for clients with broader banking relationships.

CIBC's current contract with the company is set to expire Dec. 31, 2013. CIBC had been purchasing air miles from Aimia for 22 years, then awarding them to customers who use its Aerogold credit card. When CIBC and Aimia failed to negotiate a new deal, Aimia opened up bidding to other financial institutions.

Right to match

TD offered to pay Aimia $100 million up front and to increase by 15 per cent the amount the company receives per air mile sold.

Under the terms of its current deal with Aimia, CIBC had the right to match any offer up until Aug. 9, 2013 — a deadline that passed without an offer or rejection from CIBC.

Instead, CIBC informed Aimia the proposed TD deal was invalid.

"The notice and proposed agreement was structured in a way that nullifies CIBC's right of first refusal and ability to match," Dove said after TD's Monday morning announcement.

CIBC hopes to reach a deal by Aug. 26.

If a deal isn't reached, Dove said CIBC may opt to pursue legal action.

Possible sale is 'common sense'

The proposed 50 per cent portfolio sale is "a common sense approach" that should benefit both banks, said banking analyst John Aiken of Barclays.

The deal would allow CIBC to focus on keeping the customers "it has a more fulsome relationship with," said Aiken in a statement on the talks, while TD will worry less that current Aeroplan credit card holders will switch to a different loyalty program because they fear a messy transition.

If TD's new agreement goes uncontested and the bank is deemed Aimia's new partner, current CIBC Aeroplan credit card customers will not lose any of their Aeroplan points. But those customers will also not earn any new points unless they switch to a TD card offering the points system starting in January.

Analysts have speculated CIBC is likely to start its own loyalty credit card program.

With files from the Canadian Press

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