Business Data

August 2011. Five major banks in the Philippines have signed a partnership agreement with Chicago-based credit and information management firm TransUnion to establish the country's first international private credit bureau with an initial database of four million credit card users. "This is a milestone in Philippine banking.  This will have a positive impact on the banking sector," said Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) president and CEO Aurelio Montinola III.  

Montinola, who is also the president of the Bankers Association of the Philippines, said that with the activation of credit bureau, borrowers will gain access to credit facilities at competitive prices while financial institutions will be able to minimize their credit risks.  The new bureau, called Trans Union Information Bureau Inc., is the first private corporation established under the Credit Information System Act (Republic Act No. 9510) and is separate from the government's Credit Information Corp., which is supposed to be the central registry or central repository of credit information.

Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corp. (HSBC) has upgraded its credit profile of the Philippines, following an improvement in the country's sustained economic and fiscal improvement over the past 12 months. HSBC Philippines president and CEO Tony Cripps said that while the British bank is not an international credit rating firm in the mould of Fitch Ratings, Moody's Investor Service or Standard & Poor's, it does its own credit risk assessment of countries where it operates for internal purposes.

Nokia Siemens Networks has finally decided to choose the Philippines over 37 other countries to be the newest site of its research and development facility NetworkLabs.  The company plans to grow its work force beyond 1,000 employees by 2012 from the current 500, said Nokia Siemens Networks Philippines, Inc. country director Cesar Jacinto V. Castro II.

The newly constructed NSN NetworkLabs is the first R&D facility in Southeast Asia internationally recognised in the telecommunications industry. It services and supports all R&D teams around the world.

The Philippines has enough domestic funds to finance all the infrastructure projects covered by the government's public-private sector partnership framework, and banks can raise as much as P360 billion for the projects over the first two years of implementation.

Eduardo V. Francisco, president BDO Capital & Investment Corporation, said that of the indicative P520 billion investments required for the implementation of PPP projects over the next two years, banks can easily lend P360 billion, representing 70 percent of the debt that would be needed by infrastructure companies.

Banco de Oro Unibanks Inc. (BDO) has partnered with global money transfer firm MoneyGRam to allow BDO clients to receive remittances straight to their bank accounts. BDO said the partnership made it the first Philippine bank to be exclusively accredited by MoneyGram for its credit to bank account in the country.

MoneyGram said the service also marked its first foray in the Asia-Pacific market. The global firm, with a huge network of 233,000 local agents across 191 countries and territories, recognizes the Philippines as one of the most important remittance markets in the world.

Philippine National Bank (PNB) has inaugurated 18 branches all over the country in a span of only eight days in July 2011, in time for the celebration of its 95th year of banking. "PNB is inaugurating 18 new and renovated branches in eight days (starting last week).  This is our first big salvo in almost 13 years," outgoing bank president Eugene Acevedo said.

PNB said this is a feat that has never been done before by any Philippine bank. "For the first time in the banking industry history, newly constructed and renovated branches will be officially launched in different key locations all the way from Apalit in the North down to Yllana Bay, Zamboanga in the south, beginning July 11 to July 21," it said.

Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) is retooling the function of its bank branches, as most clients now prefer to transact with the bank online.  BPI senior vice president and group head Natividad Alejo said over-the-counter transactions' share in total bank transactions dropped from 70 percent a decade ago to about 34 percent today.

Self-service transactions using automated teller machines, Internet, phones and mobile phones have raised their share from 30 percent to 66 percent during the same period, she said.  This means that only one of three financial transactions at BPI is now done over the counter.

Philippine banks are healthy, with capital exceeding both the national and international requirements, that will help them overcome a new round of global challenges this year.

"The Philippine banking system remained stable as capital adequacy ratios of different bank categories continued to exceed the Bangko Sentral's minimum ratio of 10 percent and the Basel Accord's standard ratio of 8 percent," Bangko Sentral said.
As of end-2010, the Philippine banking system registered average CAR of 16.97 percent on consolidated basis.  The Tier 1 capital ratio of the banks also remained high at 13.69 percent.

For new homebuyers, it would be good for them to approach any of the following banks that offer an interest rate of below 6 percent for one-year home loans.

Since it offered an industry low rate of 5.55 percent percent for a one-year repricing rate, beating the offers of other banks, the Philippine National Bank (PNB) has trebled its bookings for home loans. "The reaction of the market is good.  It put us back in the awareness of the consumers, including developers," said Elfren Antonio Sarte, senior vice president and head of consumer finance of PNB.
Bank of the Philippine Islands and its thrift banking unit BPI Family Savings Bank, however, beat this rate this month, when it enticed its borrowers to a promotional rate of 5.50 percent for one-year home loans.

Korean firm Youil Ensys Renewable Energy Corp. has started the groundwork for its planned 50-megawatt solar energy farms that are expected to be completed in three years.  Company general manager Gregory Pliny Lofamia said the company will build a 30 MW solar farm in Negros Occidental, a 10 MW solar farm in Bohol, and another 10 MW solar facility in Davao, for a total of 50 MW.