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December 4, 2008

Philippine bank sees 15-18% rise in 2008 lending

Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI), the country's third largest lender by assets, said on Wednesday it expects a 15-18 percent rise in its loan portfolio this year, higher than initial estimates, reported Reuters.

Loan demand from across all sectors remained robust, with consumers keen to spend more after inflation began to ease in August.

"In our view, inflation is a bigger factor than these external factors," Aurelio Montinola III told reporters, referring to the global financial crisis. "We are very pleasantly surprised that all areas did well this year."

"We have growth in top tier, we have growth in the middle market, we have growth in SMEs (small and medium enterprises), we have growth in consumer, we have growth in credit card."

Montinola said lending to those sectors was still growing at a double-digit pace.

BPI, in which conglomerate Ayala Corp and Singapore's DBS Group own a total of about 42 percent, said in August it expected a -12-15 percent growth in lending this year from 2007.

The bank's loan portfolio climbed 11 percent last year, breaking a six-year streak of single-digit loan growth.

Loan portfolio of the entire domestic banking sector climbed 24.1 percent in September from a year ago, with healthy double-digit increases in consumer-related and other loans.

The central bank has said it expects inflation to remain on a decelerating path to single-digit levels as early as this month from a peak of 12.5 percent in August.

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