By Melissa Luz T. Lopez
Senior Reporter
THE Land Bank of the Philippines (LANDBANK) said lending to agribusiness entities rose 83% in 2018, which supported the rapid expansion of its loan book.
In a statement, the state-owned bank said lending to small farmers and fisherfolk as well as micro, small and medium-scale enterprises (MSMEs) also helped the bank’s total loans to grow by a third in 2018.
Gross regular loans ended at P799.2 billion last year to post the strongest increase since 2009.
LANDBANK President and Chief Executive Officer Alex V. Buenaventura said lending to “priority sectors” accounted for 92% of the bank’s total credit lines, which amounted to P734.4 billion at the close of the year.
Loans to small farmers, which include agrarian reform beneficiaries and their associations, rose by 9% to P49.3 billion, while agribusiness loans rose 83% last year to P151.2 billion.
Funding support for the national government’s priority programs also grew by a third to hit P512.4 billion. Loans to MSMEs rose 51% to P135.5 billion, while lending to tourism-related initiatives more than doubled to P22.1 billion.
LANDBANK earlier reported that it booked a P15.5-billion net profit in 2018, up from P14.1 billion a year earlier. Mr. Buenaventura attributed the increase to an expansion in credit lines extended to agriculture, cooperatives, agribusinesses, small and medium enterprises as well as local government units.
The biggest state-owned bank also saw its deposit base grew by 17% to P1.66 trillion at the end of 2018, on the back of an increase in funds parked by both government and private sector clients. Capitalization also rose by 26% to P131.62 billion.
LANDBANK is also in the process of acquiring a controlling stake in the Philippine Dealing System Holdings Corp., a fixed-income exchange. The bank is counting on the acquisition to improve its financial position while also fast-tracking the development of the capital markets.
LANDBANK has given the Philippine Stock Exchange until March 15 to decide on its offer of P215 per share. The latter holds a 21% stake in PDS.