UnionBank profit more than doubles
Lawrence Agcaoili (The Philippine Star) - January 28, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The earnings of Aboitiz-led Union Bank of the Philippines more than doubled to a record high of P14 billion last year from P6.87 billion in 2018 on the back of the listed bank’s double-digit loan growth.

Edwin Bautista, president and chief executive officer (CEO) at UnionBank, said hitting record income was a timely achievement as the listed bank celebrated its 38th anniversary.

“I am glad of the strong growth we achieved and the superior returns we delivered amid integration of new subsidiaries and continued investments in digital transformation. Our digital strategy was key as we scaled up our businesses while maintaining lean operations. Most importantly, this accomplishment was a concerted effort across UnionBank and its subsidiaries. We are proud of the hard work put in by all UnionBankers,” Bautista said.

The bank booked an above-industry return on equity of 16.3 percent and return on assets of two percent last year.

The country’s 10th largest lender in terms of assets said in a statement its revenues surged by 44 percent, driven by the sustained double-digit increase in loans, substantial margin growth, and strong trading gains.

UnionBank treasurer and chief finance officer Jose Emmanuel Hilado said the bank ended 2019 on a high note.

“Our performance was supported by solid fundamentals given a healthy loan portfolio and steady margin recovery. Trading gains also boosted the bank’s bottomline. Moreover, CitySavings achieved its targets for the year given successes in the salary loans and motorcycle business,” Hilado said.

The bank’s loan book surged by 21 percent to P393.4 billion due to the solid business expansion in small and medium enterprises with 40 percent, credit cards with 35 percent, consumer loans with 31 percent, and commercial lending with 16 percent.

Likewise, the Aboitiz-led bank said margins surged by 113 basis points, driven by asset repricing efforts, placement of funds in cost-efficient instruments, and the impact of cuts in policy rate and reserve requirement ratio last year.

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) slashed interest rates by 75 basis points last year, partially unwinding the tightening cycle that saw benchmark rates jump by 175 basis points in 2018 due to elevated oil and rice prices as well as weak peso.

It also lowered the level of deposits banks are required to keep with the central bank by 400 basis points for big and mid-sized banks as well as by 200 basis points for small banks to boost economic activity.

The asset base of Union Bank grew by 15 percent to P770.9 billion in end 2019.

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