THE Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) has shuttered a thrift bank based in Laguna, marking the sixth lender to be ordered closed this year.

In a statement, the Philippine Deposit Insurance Corp. (PDIC) said it took over the World Partners Bank, Inc. on Friday following a closure order issued by the Monetary Board.

As regulator of the Philippine banking system, the BSP has the authority to shut down banks which are found to be incapable of remaining in business.

The thrift lender is headquartered in San Pedro City, Laguna, and runs four other branches in nearby San Pablo City; in Meycauayan and Sta. Maria in Bulacan; and in Tanauan City, Batangas.

According to PDIC data, the diversified Ang-Hortaleza Corp. owns 60% of the bank, while Rosalinda A. Hortaleza maintains a 40% share and sits as chairman.

World Partners Bank holds P559.5 million in total deposits spread across 22,613 accounts as of end-June. Of these, only P411 million is covered by deposit insurance.

As the state insurer, the PDIC is tasked to assume all the assets of a closed bank, which it will then dispose in order to settle dues to its depositors. Under the law, all bank accounts are insured up to P500,000 each.

World Partners Bank joins five other lenders shuttered by the BSP earlier this year, namely the Rural Bank of Iligan City, Inc.; the Rural Bank of Ragay, Inc. and Rural Bank of Goa, Inc. in Camarines Sur; Countryside Cooperative Rural Bank of Batangas; and the Rural Bank of Barotac Viejo, Inc.

In 2016, the BSP shut down 22 rural and thrift lenders which were found to be unviable to sustain its operations.

The PDIC, together with the central bank and the Land Bank of the Philippines, is offering technical and financial assistance to rural lenders who are looking to merge into one entity, which is seen to improve their financial footing under the Consolidation Program for Rural Banks, with the application window closing on Aug. 25.

Over the last two years, the PDIC took at least three merger proposals from at least five small banks located in one region or area who are looking to consolidate as a bigger and more stable lender. — Melissa Luz T. Lopez