Euromoney, April 2017
There is an uncomfortable acceptance in Philippine business right now. People will tell you, conspiratorially, that they did not vote for firebrand president Rodrigo Duterte; that his extrajudicial killings of suspected drug dealers are abhorrent; that insulting former US president Barack Obama was unnecessary and counterproductive and that his strong-man image jars on the world stage. But here’s the thing: bank share prices are up, profits are growing and customers are happy. For all the political noise, business is good for banks in the Philippines.
“Fundamentally, there seems to be a generally positive outlook for business,” says Fabian Dee, president of Metrobank. “A lot of us are quite bullish.”
Metrobank has good reason to be. In February, it reported full-year consolidated net income for 2016 of P18.1 billion ($520 million), with fourth-quarter earnings up 3% year on year and record levels of total assets, deposits and total loans. Revenues for the year were up 16% on 2015.
Metrobank is not alone. At BDO Unibank, the biggest bank in the Philippines, net income for 2016, at P26.1 billion, was up 4.3% year on year and total resources (a term used locally for assets) by 14.5%; non-interest income shot up by 30.3% in a year. Bank of the Philippine Islands saw full-year net income climb 20.9% from 2015 to P22.05 billion, with every important metric up and non-performing loans down. And at Land Bank of the Philippines, 2016 brought double-digit growth in both assets and deposits, with net income up 2% for the year at P13.6 billion.
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