Foreign banks keen on opening PH offices

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Two foreign banks have indicated interest in setting up shop in the Philippines, the chief of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) said.

“There are two foreign banks who submitted applications for representative offices … mainly focused on marketing,” central bank governor Nestor Espenilla Jr. told reporters.

He said the foreign banks were just “testing” but could apply for the establishment of branches if they saw good market demand. Representative offices, Espenilla added, are also important because these are useful in drawing investments to the country.

Republic Act 10641, approved by Congress in July 2014, further liberalized the entry of foreign banks in line with the region’s economic integration plans.

From 60 percent under RA 7721, the new law allowed foreign banks own up to 100 percent of an existing local bank or a new subsidiary, among others.

The Monetary Board (MB) has to date approved the local operations of 10 foreign banks, half of which are from Taiwan: Chang Hwa Bank Commercial Bank Ltd., Cathay United Bank, Yuanta Commercial Bank, First Commercial Bank, and Hua Nan Commercial Bank Ltd.

The others are South Korea’s Woori Bank, Industrial Bank of Korea, and Shinhan Bank; Singapore’s United Overseas Bank Ltd.; and Japan’s Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp.

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