SMC gets offer from Mizuho for Bank of Commerce stake

By Rosemarie Francisco and Neil Jerome Morales, Reuters

Posted at Feb 18 2015 11:32 AM | Updated as of Feb 19 2015 04:13 AM

MANILA (2nd UPDATE) - Philippine conglomerate San Miguel Corp. (SMC) is evaluating an offer from Japan's Mizuho Financial Group Inc. to buy its majority stake in unlisted Bank of Commerce, a top San Miguel executive said on Wednesday.

Mizuho, Japan's second-largest lender by assets, is only one in a shortlist of potential investors in the Philippine lender, which also includes U.S. private equity firm, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Bank of Commerce is a medium-sized lender, ranking as the Southeast Asian nation's 15th largest by assets. San Miguel is looking for a buyer for its stake of around 60 percent in the bank as part of the plan to exit businesses in which it lacks scale.

San Miguel President Ramon Ang did not reply to mobile text messages sent by Reuters on the shortlisting. But ANC said it had received a text message from Ang confirming that Mizuho made an offer which the conglomerate was evaluating. ANC did not mention TPG.

A San Miguel spokeswoman confirmed Ang's comments.

It was not immediately clear how much the stake will fetch, who else is in the race for the stake or what the next steps in the process are. Citibank is advising San Miguel on the sale.

The Philippines unit of Mizuho did not respond to emailed questions.

TPG did not respond to emails and phone calls. The source asked for anonymity as he is not authorised to speak on the matter.

"Many are courting the bank now because of its healthy financial situation," Jose Pardo, chairman of the Bank of Commerce, told Reuters. He declined to comment on the shortlisted firms.

In September, Ang told reporters the group's stake in the lender was worth $500 million.

But in 2013, San Miguel's 58 percent stake in Bank of Commerce was valued at nearly $300 million before Malaysia's second-largest lender CIMB Group Holdings Bhd walked away from a deal to buy it after months of talks.

Bank of Commerce has a capital base of nearly 20 billion pesos ($452 million) and assets of almost 130 billion pesos, according to central bank data.