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More banks keen on buying UCPB

The upcoming privatization of United Coconut Planters Bank (UCPB) has attracted more potential bidders, including the banking arms of the Gotianun and Aboitiz groups.

In separate interviews with the Inquirer, the heads of Gotianun-led East West Bank and Aboitiz-led Union Bank of the Philippines said their banks would be interested to bid for a controlling stake in UCPB when the government proceeds with a plan to privatize the bank.

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Earlier, the chair of the country’s biggest bank Banco de Oro Unibank likewise said that they were “always open” to acquisition opportunities and would consider bidding for UCPB.

Antonio Moncupa Jr., president of East West Bank, said in an interview at the sidelines of the bank’s annual stockholders’ meeting on Friday that they were interested in bidding for UCPB and were awaiting the term sheet for the latter’s potential privatization.

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“It has a good franchise and a good deposit base,” said Moncupa, who was an executive at UCPB earlier in his banking career.

Moncupa said East West Bank would likewise be interested in the bank’s United Coconut Planters Life Assurance Corp. (Cocolife). Whether or not this would be bundled with the potential bidding for UCPB would not be a deal-breaker, Moncupa said.

“We don’t mind (buying Cocolife) but we’re more interested in the bank,” he said.

In a meeting on Friday, stockholders of East West Bank ratified a plan to venture into bancassurance—or the cross-selling of insurance products through bank branches—alongside a plan to set up a finance and leasing company.

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