RIZAL COMMERCIAL Banking Corp. is targeting to grow its loans to small businesses by P11.3 billion this year as it expands its presence in selected provinces.

“For this year, the incremental target is to grow the SME (small- and medium-sized enterprises) portfolio by P11.289 billion. The strategy to increase footprint in areas where we have limited presence is part of the plan for SME to account for 20% of the bank’s total portfolio,” the bank said in an e-mail. Last year, RCBC’s SME loans climbed by 7.8% or by P5.7 billion.

The Yuchengco-led lender said it is looking to extend credit to cooperatives as well as savings and loans associations.

The bank will also set up additional SME satellite offices in provinces such as Bohol, Palawan, Nueva Ecija, and several areas in Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon) to capture more of the market.

“These areas are a possible growth market for SME loans where RCBC may introduce financing options to clients who may otherwise have limited access to credit or have been accustomed to more traditional credit lines,” RCBC said.

The bank said Metro Manila accounts for the biggest share of micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in the country as it is home to about 20% of MSME establishments.

Meanwhile, Calabarzon and Central Luzon are at second and third as they have 15% and 12%, respectively, of the country’s small businesses,

RCBC also provides digital payment and collection solutions for MSMEs.

RCBC First Senior Vice-President and SME Group Head Ma. Angela V. Tinio in July said they are also eyeing to create an end-to-end platform for small businesses to give them easier access to banking services.

The platform is set to include features such as online application, loans processing, and account management, where clients can pay their loans and avail of products and solutions from the bank.

Meanwhile, in a filing with the local bourse on Thursday, RCBC said it sold 101.85 million Treasury shares at P44 apiece to Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp. (SMBC) on July 23. This is equivalent to a 5% stake in the local bank.

The P4.48-billion capital infusion transaction was announced in June.

“The strategic investment by SMBC, which raises P4.48 billion of new core equity Tier 1 capital for the bank, is part of the bank’s capital raising plan to support long-term asset growth and digital investments,” RCBC said.

RCBC’s net earnings fell 31.55% to P1.58 billion in the first quarter from P2.308 billion a year ago. This was mainly due to trading losses and lower foreign exchange gains.

Its shares closed at P19.20 apiece on Wednesday, up by eight centavos or 0.42%. — L.W.T. Noble