Asia United Bank Eyes Universal Bank License & IPO

COMMERCIAL lender Asia United Bank, which recently acquired Asia Trust Bank, sees itself upgraded as a universal lender in two years and has taken steps for the listing of its shares and initial public offering (IPO) down the line.

This was learned from AUB executives at a briefing the lender hosted on Tuesday at the Midas Hotel in Pasay City.

The anticipated upgrade to universal lending requires the bank to scale up its capital of only P11 billion at present to P50 billion as mandated.

Boosting the capital to P50 billion should not be a problem for the lender whose record of innovation in the lending space helped it generate net income of more than P1 billion in the first nine months this year.

AUB Executive Vice President Antonio Agcaoili Jr. said the bank posted a net income of P1.04 billion as at end-September which was 47.5 percent higher than year- ago net income of only P708 million.

He said meeting the full-year target net income of P1.6 billion should not be a problem as well.

Agcaoili, who also heads the bank’s treasury operations, traced the gains to the tightening in spreads on debt of most emerging market issues where AUB was invested in.

“We saw markets like the Philippines, Indonesia, Brazil and Russia impressively outperform and they should continue to do so in the foreseeable future,” he said.

The bank’s assets have risen 37 percent to P62 billion from P45 billion last year while deposits grew 38 percent to P47 billion from P34 billion.

AUB President Abraham Co reported a loan book worth P27 billion consisting of corporate loans of P21 billion and consumer loans of another P6 billion.

Its corporate-loan portfolio grew by five percent during the period while consumer loans grew by another 10 percent.

Capital adequacy, a ratio indicating capacity to sustain losses without having to recapitalize, stood well above the minimum at 15 percent versus the required 10 percent set by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).

Co expressed optimism of AUB’s launching its own credit- card business very soon as part of the broader goal of attaining a universal banking license.

Engaging in credit cards, Co said, is acknowledged as one of the hardest any bank can involve itself with at any time: “It is not easy. We just need to have our presence felt in that space and not compete head to head with the big names.”

AUB is only 15 years old, but it already has a string of 108 branches after acquiring Asia Trust, a savings bank, and two other rural lenders.

Co said seven new branches shall have been added before the end of the year and all 150 branches should be in place within two years when its commercial-banking license is upgraded to that of a universal bank.

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