PBCom sale attracts BDO, Security Bank

Nonbanking suitors also want to buy 64-branch firm

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Banco de Oro Unibank and Security Bank Corp. have expressed interest in taking over Philippine Bank of Communications, which is currently bidding out a controlling stake to a new investor.

PBCom disclosed to the Philippine Stock Exchange on Tuesday that BDO—controlled by the family of tycoon Henry Sy—had submitted a proposal to buy into the bank, confirming an item that appeared in the column Biz Buzz on Monday.

In a separate disclosure, however, BDO said its offer to take over PBcom was not “formal.”

“BDO did submit an expression of interest in the transaction subject to further discussions and qualified by certain conditions,” the BDO disclosure said without naming such conditions.

On the other hand, Security Bank was still “interested” in PBCom but it could not be immediately confirmed whether the bank had actually submitted an offer within the June 15 deadline, another banking source said. Security Bank, in line with its strategic plan to expand its branch network, scale up loan portfolio and expand customer base, recently signed a deal to acquire Premiere Development Bank.

Other sources said Gotianun-led East West Bank, which participated in the previous bidding for PBCom together with Security Bank, did not participate in the new round of bidding.

But apart from potential banking investors, PBCom has attracted some nonbanking suitors who see value in acquiring an existing banking franchise. PBCom has 64 branches across the country that could be used as an immediate platform by a new entrant into the banking system. As for existing banks wanting to boost their distribution network, they can always choose to wait for the staggered liberalization of branch restrictions in Metro Manila.

A group led by former trade minister Roberto V. Ongpin is among the nonbanking groups that submitted a bid for PBCom, seeking to gain a foothold in the banking business through publicly listed vehicle ISM Communications Corp.
There are two other proposals from nonbanks that are being evaluated by Macquarie, the financial adviser tapped by the controlling shareholders of PBCom for the share sale.

The joint sale of a controlling stake in PBCom was part of the commitment made by key shareholders—the Luy, Chung and Nubla families—to the state-owned Philippine Deposit Insurance Corp.

PBCom is on the auction block commanding a floor price of P4.3 billion, or about P25 a share. The bank is ranked 22nd among the country’s 38 commercial banks with assets of P43.8 billion as of end-2010, according to data provided by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. It has P8.4 billion in net loans and receivables and a deposit base of P27.6 billion.

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