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Time for a foreign foray in the Philippines?

The Philippines has a favourable demographic profile and a strong consumer economy

The long overdue bank consolidation in the Philippines highlighted in June’s Euromoney looks as if it is under way. Within days of the article’s publication, two of the key identified targets sealed a deal. Union Bank of the Philippines acquired International Exchange Bank (I-Bank) for $263 million equivalent. That price values I-Bank at about 2.2 times book value and gives Union Bank an additional 78 branches and $1.35 billion equivalent of assets. Now rumours are circulating that a much larger prize might be up for grabs. Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC), the banking arm of the Yuchengco Group, is said to be in play with several mooted buyers.

Recent changes in local accounting and financial reporting standards have already hit the 2005 fiscal accounts of all Philippine banks and the forthcoming Basle II requirements will hit capital adequacy ratios hard. RCBC is no exception. It has already announced plans to raise up to $100 million of fresh capital by way of a hybrid tier one issue to shore up its capital.

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