BPI sees 'better' year on sustained growth
By Imee Charlee C. Delavin
AYALA-LED Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) expects better performance this year as it sees its core businesses expanding further.
The country's third-largest bank in asset terms saw its net income dip to PhP18.038 billion in 2014, down 4% from the PhP18.811 billion it booked at end-2013 in the absence of trading gains, although its lending business surged last year.
In a press briefing after its annual stockholders meeting yesterday, BPI President and CEO Cezar P. Consing said the lender's current performance is "still on track with [the bank's] aspirations".
"We see fruits of [our] investments bearing this year," noting that last year BPI cashed in on big investments in headcount and technology.
BPI Family Savings Bank President Natividad N. Alejo said BPI targets to "improve [its] market standing and outpace industry growth."
"As what Mr. Consing said, we hope to improve on this year's performance... we plan to grow in our core business, customer business and we actually grow on that area last year and we hope that will continue to this year," she told reporters after the press briefing.
Ms. Alejo said BPI wants to exceed last year's loan growth of 27%.
"Last year lending was really driven by auto loans and that is the lead product last year. But in the first quarter, we see more balanced growth in terms of growth in housing, auto, even in our "negosyo' loan, and franchising side," she added.
Simon R. Paterno, BPI executive vice-president and head of financial products and services, said the lender's bancassurance business is also "doing very well."
"Insurance is also doing very well, as you know we have existing partnership with Philam Life to do bancassurance," he said during the press briefing.
In a statement yesterday, BPI said its total assets, loans and deposits in 2014 recorded "all-time highs of PhP1.4 trillion, P800 billion and P1.2 trillion" respectively.
Loans grew 27% while deposits expanded by 19%.
BPI's non-interest income, which included securities and foreign exchange trading gains, went down by 5% to PhP21 billion at end-2014.
Meanwhile, Mr. Consing said the bank is also open to pursuing partnerships for its specific products, similar to its existing tie-up with Century Tokyo Leasing Corp., one of Japan's most successful asset finance companies, and the partnership it is finalizing with Global Payments, a New York stock exchange listed company that manages one of the world's largest merchant-acquiring networks.
"Our role is to be more relevant here. M&A (mergers and acquisitions) is not on the top of our agenda," he said.
"As we segment the market, what we want is also to be able to do more for our clients and we do that by partnering with the best brands for each segment," he added.
Moving forward, BPI said it plans to open up to 40 branches starting this year, mostly in outside Metro Manila area in its bid to grow its network and expand its market reach in provincial areas.
"In the next 15 to 18 months, we're hoping to be able to grow our branch network by about 5% so that's about 40 branches to be equally divided between BPI and BPI Family Savings most of that in Visayas and Mindanao," Ms. Alejo said.
"If you look at our 810 branches, half of our current branches are already in Metro Manila area, we see the need to be able to provide access in the outskirts," she added.
She also noted that part of the country's economic growth is seen in the provinces.
For its offshore ventures, Antonio V. Paner, BPI executive vice-president, treasurer, and head of global markets, said the lender plans to expand its offers in its BPI-Europe Plc to include trade-in facility. Currently, the London-based subsidiary of BPI offers deposits, and loans, among others.
Shares in the lender closed at PhP102.50 each on Wednesday, up 50 centavos or 0.49% from the previous day's price of PhP102 apiece.