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November 18, 2008

China bank eyes AIG unit in Philippines

China Banking Corp said on Monday it wants to buy the consumer banking arm of Philippine American Life and General Insurance Co (Philamlife), the local unit American International Group and the country's largest insurer, reported Reuters.

"We confirm that we were among the banks short-listed for the bidding of Philam Savings Bank," Chinabank, one of two banks owned by Philippine conglomerate SM Investments Corp (SMIC), told the Philippine Stock Exchange. It did not give further details.

Chinabank's statement follows SMIC's announcement in October that it was planning to bid for Philamlife, which had total assets of 170 billion pesos ($3.4 billion) as of the end of 2007.

Aside from SMIC, conglomerate Ayala Corp  has said it was studying a possible acquisition of Philamlife and its assets, as have Rizal Commercial Banking Corp, and Metropolitan Bank & Trust Co, the Philippines' largest lender.

Philamlife said in October it has received offers from about 10 local and foreign groups after it was declared among the assets being sold by AIG to pay off its debts to the US government.

AIG has yet to decide whether it would sell the Philamlife and its units in one transaction or break up the group and sell parts to different investors. SMIC also controls Banco de Oro Unibank the country's second-biggest bank.

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