After focusing on consolidation and organic growth in the last few years, local banking giant Metropolitan Bank and Trust Co. is willing to fast-track growth through the merger-and-acquisition route.
“We’re open to the opportunity,” Metrobank’s new president Fabian Dee said in an interview with the Inquirer.
In a separate chat during the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ annual reception for the banking community Friday night, Metrobank chairman Arthur Ty reaffirmed earlier pronouncements that the bank was not in talks to acquire Philippine National Bank.
When Ty became president of Metrobank in 2006, he said the bank had learned its lessons from the past and would not resort to another acquisition binge that took a while to digest. In the last few years, the management team under Ty thus focused on strengthening the bank’s balance sheet, making it at one point the highest capitalized bank (prior to Banco de Oro’s $1-billion stock rights offering last year) even if it lost the bragging right of being the biggest in terms of assets to Banco de Oro Unibank in 2008.
Tycoon Henry Sy-led BDO, for its part, has been acquiring one new bank—big and small—almost every year since 2000. Bank of the Philippine Islands, on the other hand, has made a move on PNB although the exclusivity period to negotiate has lapsed.
For this year, Metrobank is upbeat on business prospects. “I think this year is pretty good,” said Dee, who was named president of the bank last year while Ty was promoted to chair. “If these big (infrastructure) projects take off, that’s going to be one source of growth.”
Dee said that consistent with Metrobank’s very conservative strategy, the loan book this year would likely grow by “mid-teen” levels.
Macquarie Group said in a Jan. 8 research that among the country’s three largest banks, Metrobank was in the best position to capture loans growth given its loan-to-deposit ratio of 68 percent, the lowest among the group.