MANILA, Philippines - Retiring Bank of the Philippine Islands president Aurelio Montinola says his successor is the right man to make BPI a regional player.
Cezar "Bong" Consing was named to the top job at Ayala-owned bank, effective April next year.
The transition comes just when BPI is trying to make itself the country's largest bank through a possible merger with Philippine National Bank.
"That's one of the reason why Mr. Consing has been chosen... He's familiar with the whole Southeast Asian area. That's the expertise he'll bring in," Montinola said.
"BPI realizes instead of just looking at the Philippines, we we should look at the at region... Bong Consing is more than an investment banker. He was one of the highest ranking Asians in JP Morgan," he added.
Consing is a 19-year veteran of JP Morgan and now Hong Kong head of the Rohatyn Group a $3 billion hedge fund manager.
The Ayala Group itself has a stake in Rohatyn after swapping its stake in an Asian real estate investment company for Rohatyn shares.
Ayala also has existing ties with Japanese partners Mitsubishi and Mizuho.
"We're always a believer in having very good correspondent banking relationships. I think that's always the start. It is a reality that in today's world, there are not so many Filipino corps who are investing in ASEAN countries. It might be too expensive to set up an individual presence for only a few companies," Montinola said.
"Our most successful area is actually outside ASEAN because we have the Japanese desk. We have very good relationships with several Japanese banks, of course Mitsubishi and and we recently signed one with Mizuho... In the ASEAN, it's in the early days," he said.
Montinola has been president of BPI since 2005, the year when the Ayala bank paused from its buying spree that saw it swallow Citytrust, Far East Bank, DBS Philippines and Prudential Bank in a span of 9 years.
While that wasn't enough to match Henry Sy's BDO Unibank in size, Montinola kept BPI the country's biggest bank by market cap, meaning investors valued it more than its bigger competitors.
"I've been working since I was 20 years old. It's time to relax a bit," Montinola said.
BPI's next chapter is up to Consing.