By Ditas Lopez and Ian Sayson
Philippine National Bank, the lender owned by billionaire Lucio Tan, plans to reduce bad-loan provisions in anticipation that borrowers will be better able to repay debts as the economy reopens.
The nation’s fifth-largest lender earmarked about 9 billion pesos ($185 million) for soured loans in January to August and may claw back some of that cash in the ensuing months, President and Chief Executive Officer Wick Veloso said in a briefing on Friday.
“For the third quarter, we’re already seeing improvements,” Veloso said. “It’s just a question of finding out whether we keep it for the year or start to reinstate.”
Provisions in the three months to September will be lower than in the previous two quarters, Chief Financial Officer Nelson Reyes said.
A plan to sell prime properties to help reduce low-earning assets and improve revenue “is a priority,” Veloso said. “If we’re able to get the regulatory approvals soon, then we’re hopeful that this is a transaction that will materialize within the year.”
Out of PNB’s 9,200 employees, 3,621 are still working from home and that number may be maintained if remote work becomes permanent, since there has been no disruption in bank operations and services, Veloso said.
PNB plans to set up a digital bank, the CEO added.
The bank has alloted 2.5 billion pesos for information technology spending this year, CFO Reyes said.
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