PH antitrust regulator clears BPI-Robinsons Bank merger
MANILA -Industry giant Bank of the Philippine Islands received the go-ahead from the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) to proceed with its P27-billion acquisition of and merger with the Gokongwei family-led Robinsons Bank.
The powerful antitrust body said in a recently-released decision the takeover “will not likely result in substantial lessening of competition” after reviewing its impact on the banks’ various businesses such as loans, deposits, and credit card issuances.
The PCC also noted that BPI was already the third largest lender in the country before the deal was announced.
“Post-transaction, BPI, as the surviving entity, will merely retain its current position as one of the largest players in the identified relevant markets,” the PCC said.
“Robinsons Bank, in contrast, does not have any significant share in the identified relevant markets,” it said.
The deal will give Gokongwei companies JG Summit and Robinsons Retail Holdings a 6-percent stake in BPI. Robinsons Retail recently closed a separate deal to buy another 4.4 percent of the bank, part of the country’s oldest conglomerate, the Zobel family-led Ayala Corp.
BPI president and CEO Jose Teodoro K. Limcaoco earlier said the merger will increase revenues by about 7 percent and profits by 5 to 6 percent.
The PCC also looked into BPI’s takeover of Robinsons Bank’s 20 percent stake in GoTyme Bank Corp., among the few digital banks in the country.
“BPI will be able to enter the digital banking market through GoTyme,” the PCC said.
“Although BPI is one of the major traditional banks, it will have no incentive to foreclose other banks from funding GoTyme accounts because its client base is not enough to increase the scale of operations of GoTyme,” it added.
GoTyme’s also faced capable competitors in the loans segment.
GoTyme’s end-2022 loan portfolio stood at P538.8 million, behind PLDT Inc.-backed Maya Bank (P2.37 billion) and Aboitiz-led Union Digital Bank (P5.74 billion), said the PCC, which cited data from the lenders.
After obtaining the PCC’s approval, BPI and the Gokongwei Group will still need clearance from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas and Securities and Exchange Commission before finalizing the merger.
Thus, BPI said the “timetable for implementation of the merger cannot be fixed at this time as the same is subject to regulatory approvals”.
“The proposed merger will unlock various synergies across several products and service platforms, expand the customer and deposit base of both banks through the merged entity, and, at the same time, by capitalizing on BPI’s expertise and network, enhance the overall banking experience of RBC customers,” BPI said in the stock exchange filing on Friday.