ASIA UNITED Bank Corp. (AUB) saw its bottom line reach P1.3 billion in the first six months of the year, fuelled by an expansion in its core business during the period.

In a statement e-mailed to reporters on Monday, the banking arm of tycoon Jacinto L. Ng’s Republic Biscuit Corp. announced its consolidated net income in the first six months stood at P1.3 billion, rising by 7% from the P1.2 billion recorded in the same period a year ago.

“We remain on track with our aspiration to become one of the top ten leading banks in the Philippines,” AUB President Abraham T. Co was quoted as saying in a statement.

The bank said its bottom line grew on the back of a 16% growth in its interest income from loans and receivables during the January to June period.

AUB’s loans and receivables expanded 17.7% to P107 billion in the first six months from P91 billion in 2016.

The bank’s consumer loan book, which consisted of auto, mortgage and salary loans, grew by 35%, with AUB saying the sector will be a “significant profit driver” moving forward.

“The group’s net income for the first half of 2017 translated to a return on assets of 1.5% and return on equity of 11.0% versus year-ago ratios of 1.7% and 11.4%, respectively,” AUB stated in its quarterly report.

The same report showed the bank’s net profit in the second quarter stood at P677.457 million, nearly unchanged or 0.5% up from the P674.120 million recorded in the same period a year ago.

The listed lender’s net interest income posted a double-digit growth of 18% to P3.168 billion in the first half of the year from P2.685 billion in 2016 as the bank “effectively managed its mix of interest-earning assets versus the interest-bearing liabilities and spreads.”

This brought its net interest margin ratio to 4.6% in the six months end-June, down from 4.7% last year.

AUB’s total operating expenses, which include provisions for losses, went down by 3.9% to P2.286 billion in the first semester from the P2.379 billion logged in the comparable year-ago period on the back of a drop in provision for credit and impairment losses.

“Due to the group’s efforts to effectively manage cost, cost to income ratio is relatively stable at 51.5% for period ended June 30, 2017, a slight improvement from 51.7% ratio a year ago,” the bank said.

AUB and its subsidiaries recorded a double-digit rise in liabilities during the first semester, with total deposits at P151 billion, up 25.5% from P121 billion in the same period in 2016.

Currently, the bank has a total consolidation distribution network of 239 branches located across the country. This year, it expects to continue expanding its reach and put up an average of 30 branches a year, which would cost around P7 million per branch.

Mr. Co had said AUB is bullish on its growth prospects for the next three years amid expectations of positive Philippine economic growth.

Shares in AUB gained 10 centavos or 0.17% to close at P59.80 apiece on Monday. — Janine Marie D. Soliman