China Bank Savings, Pampanga rural bank merger gets green light

Shareholders of China Bank Savings (CBS), a unit of China Banking Corp., approved the merger with a Pampanga-based rural bank, targeting 100 branches next year.

In a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange, China Bank said stockholders of CBS approved the merger with Unity Bank during the savings bank's annual stockholders meeting July 18.

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) and Securities and Exchange Commission will have to approve the merger.

In a statement, CBS president Alberto Emilio V. Ramos said the merger fast-tracks the savings bank’s branch expansion program. “From this deal alone, we will have at least 73 branches by year-end, on track to meet the target of 100 branches by 2014,” Ramos noted.

Once approved, Unity Bank will be folded under CBS and its branches converted into CBS’ core banking system and carry the name China Bank Savings.

In November 2012, BSP approved China Bank’s acquisition of 99.95 percent of Unity Bank’s outstanding subscribed capital stock for P400 million.

With the approval, Bangko Sentral's policy-making Monetary Board waived the license fees for 18 more branches to be opened in restricted areas, and six more once the merger is completed.

CBS opened nine branches in the first half of the year, bringing its branch count to date to 42 from 33 last year.

The acquisition supports Bangko Sentral's Strengthening Program for Rural Banks to improve the delivery of financial services by strengthening the thrift and rural banking industry which cater mainly to people in the countryside. — Danessa Rivera/VS, GMA News