PHILIPPINE Bank of Communications has sold its auto loan portfolio. — BW FILE PHOTO

PHILIPPINE BANK of Communications (PBCom) has closed the sale of its car loan portfolio to East West Banking Corp. (EastWest Bank) to focus on its core market.

The Co-led bank said in a regulatory filing Wednesday that it sold its dealer-generated auto lending book to EastWest Bank.

“The asset represents 5% of the bank’s loan portfolio and comprises a small portion of the bank’s interest income,” PBCom told the local stock exchange.

On June 19, the Philippine Competition Commission gave EastWest Bank the green light to acquire PBCom’s car loan portfolio, since the transaction will “not likely result in any significant change in market structure.”

PBCom’s move to sell its dealer-generated auto loan book is part of its strategy to “focus on its core market with particular emphasis on branch referred accounts and ecosystem of the Lucio Co Group of Companies.”

In 2014, retail tycoon Lucio L. Co bought a stake in PBCom for nearly P6 billion, making Puregold Price Club, Inc. the bank’s biggest single shareholder.

In a previous interview, PBCom President and Chief Executive Officer Patricia May T. Siy said the Co-led lender will focus on maximizing the ecosystem, as it plans to expand presence within the Puregold network.

The bank recently opened three new pop-up branches in Puregold Taguig, Valenzuela and Paso De Blas, saying it is expected to open more branches this year.

PBCom posted a P382.6-million net income in the first quarter, more than double the P176.9 million a year ago. — KANV