In the realm of the Philippine banking industry, not many can claim the “bragging rights” for membership in
this elite group.
If the Bangko Sentral were to create for them an appropriate if not politically correct name, most probably it would be something like the “Trilyonaryo Club.” The crème de la crème.
That is so because only eight of them are worthy of the distinction for having reached the trillion-peso level of assets.
Together, they have at their collective disposal some 80 percent in total assets of all universal banks as of end-2022, based on Bangko Sentral records.
Their corporate names are as familiar as the people who are behind the exclusive, rarefied space.
Some of them are scions of wealthy families who have taken over the business and have indelibly stamped their own mark, according to their corporate profiles.
Of the eight, however, two are state- run banks which are about to merge if things go smoothly as planned.
Two other universal banks, the Aboitiz-controlled Union Bank of the Philippines and Security Bank Corp. of the Zamoras, may have already caught up with the rest of the pack after the second quarter in June this year. With Edwin R. Bautista at the helm as president CEO, Union Bank is vigorously pushing for modern banking as exemplified by the creation of a digital bank subsidiary. Security Bank, on other hand, is also within a striking distance of the leaders, with Sanjiv Vohra running the day-to-day operations as president and CEO.
BDO Unibank maintained its stronghold as the biggest bank in the Philippines across all metrics, with total assets close to breaching the P4-trillion mark as of end-2022. The government-owned Land Bank of the Philippines is a far second with P3.14 trillion in total assets but has the potential to overtake BDO with another planned merger on the table.
The Yuchengco family’s Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC) led asset accumulation to enter the Trilyonaryo Club in 2022 thanks to a 24 percent increase in asset holdings. The Zobel de Ayala clan’s Bank of the Philippine Islands also posted an expansion of the same magnitude at 24 percent, cementing its position as the country’s third-largest lender.
The Tan family’s Philippine National Bank (PNB) and state-owned Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) bucked the trend as both saw slight declines in total assets to slide on rank lower in industry listings compared to 2021.
Banco de Oro or BDO Universal
Bank originated from Acme Savings Bank, then
owned by the late Henry Sy, one of the five original
taipans. “Acme” also means highest point, which
is very appropriate for the bank that has reached
the pinnacle. Among its major milestones was the
merger with Equitable PCI Bank on Dec. 27, 2006
with BDO as surviving entity. Its current chairwoman
is Teresita Sy-Coson of the Sy-founded SM Group,
the bank’s controlling stockholder. BDO has a
workforce of 38,510 employees and a network of
1, 434 branches in parts of Asia, North America,
Europe and the Middle East. Total assets amounted
to P3.9 trillion as of Dec. 31, 2022, according to the
Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.
Merger beckons. Land Bank of the Philippines has multiple tasks apart from catering to the credit needs of farmers and fishermen. It also serves as depository bank of most state agencies and local government units. Its current chairman, Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno, is a staunch advocate for a merger with another state bank, DBP. In June 2021, LandBank merged with UCPB, thereby beefing up its financial muscle. LandBank grew its assets to P3.13 trillion with a workforce of 10,037 employees as of 2019..
Land Bank of the Philippines has multiple tasks apart from catering to the credit needs of farmers and fishermen. It also serves as depository bank of most state agencies and local government units. Its current chairman, Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno, is a staunch advocate for a merger with another state bank, DBP. In June 2021, LandBank merged with UCPB, thereby beefing up its financial muscle. LandBank grew its assets to P3.13 trillion with a workforce of 10,037 employees as of 2019.
Bank of the Philippine Islands was established on Aug. 1, 1851, becoming the first bank not only in the Philippines but also in Southeast Asia. Its original name was El Banco Espanol Filipino de Isabel II. As the Philippines’ first c entral bank under the Spanish era, it provided credit for the national treasury as well as printed and issued Philippine currencies. A son of Don Jaime Zobel de Ayala, Jaime Augusto or JAZA to his peers and employees, serves as board chairman. BPI has 21,429 employees and 1,173 branches with P2.6 trillion in assets as of 2022.
Metrobank (Metropolitan Bank and Trust Corp.) turned 60 last April, with the family of the late taipan George Ty firming up its hold on the bank. Through the GT Capital Holdings which owns over 51 percent of Metrobank, Ty family scion Arthur Ty exercises control as chairman of the board. The Ty family is also into real estate, insurance and automotive ventures (Toyota Motor Philippines). Metrobank has at least 17 subsidiaries including PSBank and a total workforce of 17,000 employees. Assets stood at P2.9 trillion as of 2022, according to BSP data.
The chairman of China Banking Corp. is Hans Sy, a sibling of BDO’s Teresita Sy- Coson. Although they are both scions of Henry Sy, they appear to be running their respective businesses independent of each other. There’s no sibling rivalry here, it seems. Founded in 1920, China Bank became the Philippines’ first privately- owned commercial bank. Under Sy’s control, China Bank last year grew its assets to P1.4 trillion with its workforce reaching 9, 813 employees.
Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. is majority-owned by the Yuchengco Group of Companies which has at least 60 businesses under its wings. With P1.2 trillion in assets, RCBC ranks fifth on the trillionaire’s list. Its chairman, Helen Yuchengco-Dee, is the daughter of the late Ambassador Alfonso Yuchengco, one of the five taipans. YGC is also into insurance, construction, education and auto dealerships among other businesses.
PNB or Philippine National Bank has for its controlling owner the LT Group of tycoon Lucio Tan. It was Tan who acquired the state shares in PNB during the privatization of 1989. PNB in 2013 merged with the Tan-owned Allied Bank, with PNB as surviving entity. PNB now has P1.16 trillion worth of assets, a workforce of 8,550 employees and 713 branches. A revamp of PNB saw Edgar Cua serving as chairman and Florido Casuela as president.
DBP was founded in 1947 in the aftermath of war that destroyed many of the country’s major infrastructure. In 1958, the Rehabilitation Finance Corp. was reorganized, its assets taken over by DBP. The state bank refocused on financing small-medium enterprises and export- oriented industries. Its chairman retired SC justice Dante Tinga saw the bank assets growing to P1.04 trillion at end-2022.
BDO led the club in terms of profitability with a P57.1 billion net income in 2022, followed by BPI which tallied a 65.8 percent surge to P39.6 billion. Majority of the trilyonaryo lenders posted double- digit expansions in their bottom lines with the exception being UnionBank, which stood steady at P12.6 billion, and PNB, which reported a 63.5 percent reduction to P11.5 billion coming from a net income of P31.6 billion in 2021.
Aboitiz-owned Union Bank of the Philippines jacked up its capital base in 2022, leading the pack with a 32 percent increase in total capitalization to P144.1 billion. In contrast, the Ty family’s Metropolitan Bank & Trust Co. endeavored to keep its capital base steady at P306.8 billion in at least two years.
In terms of deposits, RCBC and UnionBank led increases in total deposit liabilities at 27.2 percent and 26.5 percent, respectively, against declines seen by PNB and DBP from 2021. Mergers and acquisitions likewise drove double-digit growth in deposits for Landbank (21.8 percent to P2.76 trillion).
BDO Unibank handed out the biggest value of loans in 2022 to remain the industry leader despite BPI expanding its loan book by 33.8 percent. UnionBank, fresh from acquiring the retail portfolio of global lender Citibank, also reported a 31.2 percent expansion in total loans granted compared to 2021.
Among Trilyonaryo Club members, Landbank posted the best return on equity at 14.29 percent while BPI was a far second at 13.02 percent. PNB trailed the list at 6.14 percent.