China Bank to open thrift banking unit
- Ted P. Torres () - October 4, 2007 - 12:00am

China Banking Corp. is planning to open a thrift and savings bank to accommodate its expanding consumer and retail market, banking sources said.

They said the move would free up the bank’s commercial banking functions to concentrate on the middle market, corporates, trust and other such operations.

Its growing consumer and retail banking operations can then be managed by the proposed thrift bank, especially small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and retail banking activities.

Last June, China Bank acquired the Manila Banking Corp., a thrift bank owned by the Puyat clan. Manila Bank holds 65 branch licenses of which only 26 are actually operational. It also operates 28 automated teller machines (ATMs).

Forty-one branch licenses of Manila Bank are located in Metro Manila while 34 are located in areas outside Metro Manila.

Bank sources said that the proposed thrift bank will continue to operate some of the existing Manila Bank branches, especially those located in areas where the commercial bank has no or limited presence.

The number of branches for the thrift bank will be determined subject to approvals and consultation with monetary authorities.

Industry sources said China Bank wanted to operate a thrift bank since its “affiliate” bank – Banco de Oro Unibank – operates one in Equitable Savings Bank. This was acquired when the then Banco de Oro Universal Bank acquired Equitable PCI Bank.

Meanwhile, China Bank will retain the branch licenses located in the so-called restricted areas assigned by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP). These are mainly Metro Manila and a number of key cities outside Luzon.

“The additional branches will boost China Bank’s continued expansion in the middle and SME markets,” the same sources said.

China Bank presently operates 153 branches and 227 ATMs nationwide.

China Bank president and chief executive officer Peter S. Dee said in a statement that the acquisition of Manila Bank is part of the bank’s three-year business plan. The business plan includes an aggressive expansion of its distribution network, together with substantial growth in assets and loan portfolio.

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