Philippine economy

BSP approves Lucio Co’s investment in PBCOM
BSP approves Lucio Co’s investment in PBCOM
The retail tycoon and Puregold supermarket chain owner becomes the single largest shareholder in the 75-year-old bank as he acquires a combined 49.99% interest in PBCOM

MANILA, Philippines – The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) has approved businessman Lucio Co’s acquisition of 37.7% interest in the 75-year-old Philippine Bank of Communications, PBCOM announced on Tuesday, September 23.

Co is listed as the 12th richest Filipino according to Forbes magazine.

In a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange, PBCOM said the Monetary Board of the BSP approved PG Holdings, Incorporated’s subscription to 181.080 million newly-issued common shares of PBCOM.

At P33 ($0.74*) per share, the transaction is worth P5.9 billion ($132.52 million).

“PBCOM and PG Holdings, Inc. will now proceed to execute the necessary agreements for this subscription,” PBCCOM said.

This subscription increases the bank’s issued shares to 480.645 million.

It also culminates the capital-raising activities the bank pursued earlier this year.

“As we turn 75, we are keeping our sights on how we can make PBCOM bigger and stronger in the years to come. Having major investors such as Mr Lucio and Mrs Susan Co, who sit at the helm of an expanding, diversified enterprise, provides us with a strong platform upon which to build the next 75 years and beyond,” PBCOM president and chief executive officer Nina Aguas said in a statement.

Apart from subscription in new shares, Co is also acquiring ISM Communications Corporation’s 59.2 million shares in PBCOM, also at P33 per share ($0.74).

The transaction, which is worth P1.95 billion ($43.86 million), will further increase Co’s stake in PBCOM to 49.99%, making him the bank’s single biggest shareholder.

Other major shareholders of the bank are PBCOM chairman Eric Recto and the Nubla family.

With the entry of Co, PBCOM earlier said it plans to aggressively expand its branch network through acquisitions and organic growth.

From its current 75 bank branches, PBCOM is aiming to have 140 branches by mid-2015.

The bank is also on the lookout for possible acquisitions.

PBCOM recently acquired two rural banks – the Rural Bank of Nagcarlan and Banco Dipolog, Incorporated.

The acquisitions will add a combined 19 rural banking branches to PBCOM’s network.

The bank is aiming to grow its loan portfolio to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to take advantage of Co’s strength in the SME market through his Puregold Price Club Incorporated’s network of supermarkets.

Puregold is the second-largest retail chain in the country, next to the Sy family’s SM supermalls.

 *$1 = P44.45

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