EastWest Bank secures universal bank license

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 02 2012 11:33 AM | Updated as of Aug 02 2012 07:49 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Gotianun family-led EastWest Bank received the green light from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas to operate as a universal bank.

The bank received its universal bank license from the BSP last July 31. A universal banking license is the highest license given by banking regulators. It allows banks to engage in other activities like investment banking, industrial ventures and even real estate development.

East West Bank has a capitalization of around P16 billion, which is more than double the minimum capital required to become a universal bank.

Even with the universal bank license, EastWest is still focusing on the retail and corporate middle-market sectors.

EastWest president & CEO Antonio C. Moncupa, Jr. said they have no plans to set up an investment banking subsidiary at this time.

"We are looking to form a unit inside the bank which will offer investment banking services. At this point though, we will continue to focus on commercial and retail banking. Our primary target markets remain to be mid-sized corporates and the consumer segments. The added capabilities from our unibank license will primarily be directed to serve these market segments better. Aside from the basic investment banking services like underwriting, arranging, and advisory, we are also looking into leasing," Moncupa said, in a statement.

EastWest listed its shares at the Philippine Stock Exchange last May, the first bank to conduct an initial public offering in 8 years.

East West currently has 154 branches. It plans to open 100 more branches this year, 75 of which will be in restricted areas.

The Bank is a subsidiary of the Filinvest Development Corporation (FDC), the publicly listed holding company of the Filinvest Group that evolved from a consumer business founded by Andrew L. Gotianun, Sr. in 1955.

FDC is one of the country's premier conglomerates, with business interests in real estate, banking, sugar, hospitality and tourism, and power-generation. Through the years, EastWest Bank has successfully capitalized on the financial strength and synergy from the business organizations under the Filinvest Group.