EastWest Bank to expand asset base

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Gotianun-owned EastWest Banking Corp., is looking to strengthen its asset base from the current P250 billion to P500 billion in the next couple of years to improve its profitability.

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This was the message of EastWest Bank President and Chief Executive Officer Antonio Moncupa Jr. during the lender’s annual stockholders meeting held in Muntinlupa City on Friday.

Moncupa said the bank’s asset base projection was based on the fact that the bank is starting to benefit from its expansion program.

The bank ended 2015 with total branch network of 433 stores, the fifth largest in the industry, including its rural bank.

Last year, the lender had put up 141 branch stores and also expanded its lending organization to deploy the expected increase in deposits from its expanding customer base in the last three years.

This year, however, EastWest plans to slow its expansion program to focus on is core businesses.

“This year we will put up around 10 branches, mostly in Metro Manila, including the restricted areas. But in 2017 and 2018, we will resume our aggressive store expansion program,” Moncupa said.

Moncupa said the current network size of the bank would make it compete fairly with other big universal and commercial banks.

The bank’s assets last year stood at P232.9 billion or 24 percent higher than end-2014.

Meanwhile, Moncupa said the bank was targeting a 30-percent growth in net income this year, significantly better than the P2 billion in 2015.

“If we don’t grow by 30 percent, we will be sad,” he said.

He said both loans and deposits could also grow by about 20 percent on the back of an improving economy.

EastWest last year realized a net income of P2 billion, 3 percent lower than a year earlier on lower trading gains, higher credit provisions, and higher tax expense.

Total loans grew by 29 percent while deposits increased by 25 percent last year.

Lastly, he said the bank was also planning to launch another round of capital-raising for sustainability.

“At the rate we are going, we see another round of capital-raising, we just don’t know when. Maybe this year or next year,” Moncupa said.

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