ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
StanChart considers sale of Philippines retail unit
STANDARD Chartered is looking to sell its retail business in the Philippines, part of a wider bid by embattled CEO Peter Sands to cut costs and shrink the bank’s asset base, a person with direct knowledge of the matter said.
The London-listed bank, which entered the Philippines in 1872, would continue to operate its corporate banking business in the country to focus on top clients such as San Miguel, the nation’s biggest conglomerate, the source said.
A spokesman for Standard Chartered said the bank would “not comment on speculation”.
The source declined to be identified as the matter is not yet public.
Standard Chartered’s assets in the Philippines total US$1.72 billion, according to the country’s central bank. It currently has five branches and over 500 employees in the Southeast Asian nation, according to the bank’s website.
Two-thirds of those employees are in its retail business, the source said.
It was not immediately clear how much the retail business would fetch, as no breakdown of StanChart’s retail assets in the Philippines is available.
It could be left with one branch if the sale goes ahead, the source said.
Sands is under pressure from investors to reverse a two-year decline in the bank’s fortunes that have seen its shares lose 46 per cent of their value in the last two years. Some are calling for him to be replaced.
The CEO has been shuttering businesses where the lender had failed to achieve sustainable scale.
Last month StanChart closed the bulk of its global equities business and said it would axe 4,000 jobs in retail banking.
In December Standard Chartered sold its Hong Kong and Shenzhen consumer finance businesses to a consortium that included China Travel Financial Holdings, US hedge fund York Capital Management Global Advisors and financial firm Pepper Australia Pty Ltd.
The sale could attract bids from Philippine lenders who dominate the local banking business and further a government-backed goal of bringing consolidation to the domestic banking sector.
Antonio Moncupa, president of Philippines’ EastWest Banking Corp, said his firm would consider a bid for StanChart’s retail banking assets.
“We will surely consider. But we need to see the bidding process details first in making a decision,” he told Reuters on Tuesday.
The country’s deputy central bank governor, Nestor Espenilla Jr, said in July smaller players in the country’s overcrowded banking market would need to grow, combine with a local player or sell out.
The country’s largest lender, BDO Unibank Inc, bought Citibank’s thrift bank unit in the country in late 2013.
Standard Chartered’s Philippines unit ranks as 18th biggest in the country in terms of assets, trailing foreign banks such as Citibank which is at number 11.
The top three local banks BDO Unibank, Metropolitan Bank & Trust Co and Bank Of the Philippine Islands control 43 per cent of the country’s banking assets, according to central bank data.
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