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BDO, BPI seek qualified bank status under ASEAN framework

GMA News Online logo GMA News Online 4/20/2017 Sollorano, Vic
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BDO Unibank Inc. and Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI), the largest banks in the country, intend to expand within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region, under the Qualified ASEAN Banks (QAB) program.

"We want to be one of the QABs. We want to have a bank that meets ASEAN standards," BDO President and CEO Nestor V. Tan told reporters in a briefing in Makati City.

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) earlier this month formalized a bilateral agreement with Bank Negara Malaysia to allow the entry of QABs between the two countries.

The BSP also inked a letter of intent with the Bank of Thailand (BOT) to start bilateral discussions on opening their respective banking industries to each other.

The BSP defines a QAB as “strong and well-managed banks, headquartered in ASEAN and majority owned by ASEAN nationals.”

Tan, however, said BDO is not immediately looking at branching out overseas.

"Are we looking outside the Philippines? Not yet. But that does not mean that we won't," he said.

"At the moment, we are very focused on the local market," he added.

BPI said in a separate briefing it also wants to be a Philippines QAB.

"Hopefully, we get designated as a QAB," BPI President Cezar P. Consing said.

Consing said there is still not much detail on the QABs – if banks need to apply or be designated by the BSP.

"Our understanding is that regulators will agree. It's not for us to decide," he said. — VDS, GMA News

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