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BSP approves Landbank acquisition of postal bank

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Philippine Postal Savings Bank's branch in Dipolog City. -- www.postbank.gov.ph

THE central bank has approved the acquisition of the Philippine Postal Savings Bank (PPSB) by Land Bank of the Philippines (Landbank), which intends to position the takeover target as a lender for overseas Filipinos.

At a signing ceremony involving the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) and the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC), BSP Deputy Governor Chuchi G. Fonacier revealed that the Monetary Board gave its approval for the acquisition two weeks ago.

Malacañang signed an executive order in October, directing the PPSB to transfer all its assets to Landbank to create the Overseas Filipino Bank (OFB).

In the executive order, OFB will be “dedicated to provide financial products and services tailored to the requirements of overseas Filipinos, and focused on delivering quality and efficient foreign remittance services.”

BSP Governor Nestor A. Espenilla, Jr. is expecting the bank to be fully operational in February, as the monetary authority is waiting for the approval of the PCC.

“[We’re just waiting for the approval of the] PCC because [it was already approved] from the BSP side,” Ms. Fonacier noted.

PCC Chairman Arsenio M. Balisacan said the Landbank’s acquisition of PPSB is in the early stage of its review process.

“The documents have been submitted, now we’re in phase one which has a maximum period of 30 days. Hopefully, the process can move quickly,” Mr. Balisacan said.

BSP’s Ms. Fonacier clarified that the process of acquisition is separate from the process of establishing the OFB’.

“[They have to go through with the] acquisition [first] and then the creation of the bank,” she said.

The officials were commenting during a memorandum of agreement signing between the central bank and the PCC which aims to foster competitiveness among banks and other financial institutions.

The agreement is geared toward “efficient regulatory approach concerning the banking and financial industry,” Mr. Balisacan was quoted as saying in a statement.

“Our objective is for us to be able to enforce our law well by way of sharing information to the extent allowed by applicable laws,” the PCC chairman noted shortly after the signing, adding that the partnership will help promote and preserve the ease of doing business in the country.

The partnership will position the BSP to make recommendations regarding proposed mergers and acquisitions to the competition regulator.

“The BSP may certify to PCC the urgency of concluding a proposed merger or acquisition involving BSP-supervised financial institutions (BSFIs), in which the PCC shall take into account in the conduct of its review of the notification,” the statement from PCC read.

“The BSP may also recommend to PCC that a proposed merger or acquisition involving BSFIs may be exempted from prior notification, released from obligation to submit review requirements,” it said.

The agreement will also set up mechanisms to “boost detection, investigation and prosecution” of anti-competitive activities in the sector.

“The critical element here is facilitation of our processes in such a way that the process is efficient, that will not undermine the efficiency of business operations and at the same time will achieve consumer welfare,” Mr. Balisacan said. — Karl Angelo N. Vidal





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