Kuala Lumpur-based CIMB Group is set to open its first retail branch in the Philippines before the end of the year after obtaining the green light from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) to establish banking operations in the country.
The Monetary Board of the BSP has approved the application of CIMB Bank Berhad to operate a branch in the Philippines, bringing the number of foreign banks allowed to open branches in the country to 11 since the banking industry was fully liberalized more than three years ago.
Tengku Dato’ Sri Zafrul Aziz, chief executive of the CIMB Group, said the approval to set up a branch in the Philippines would complete the group’s footprint in Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
“We are delighted to have received the green light from the BSP. The awaited missing link to complete CIMB’s ASEAN-10 footprint has now materialized. This will further propel CIMB into becoming the leading ASEAN universal bank, which will further strengthen our value proposition to customers,” he said.
It also has presence in Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia, Brunei, Vietnam, Myanmar, and Laos. Beyond ASEAN, the CIMB Group has market presence in China, Hong Kong, India, Sri Lanka, Korea, the US, and UK.
The approval finally paves the way for the Malaysian bank to establish a presence in the Philippines after a failed attempt in 2012.
The CIMB Group entered into an agreement with diversified conglomerate San Miguel Corp. (SMC) in 2012 for the acquisition of the listed company’s 58 percent stake in Bank of Commerce for P12 billion.
However, the transaction was called off a year after as parties failed to reach a deal even after discussions were extended after the lapse of the memorandum of agreement (MOA).
“The Philippines offers tremendous opportunity with progressive regulation, attractive demographics, relatively lower banking penetration and good talent. Our strategy will see us applying the best of our digital assets from across the region as well as working with key strategic partners locally,” he said.
CIMB Group, Malaysia’s second largest financial services provider and one of ASEAN’s leading universal banking groups, has the most extensive retail branch network in the region with around 900 branches.
It operates its business through CIMB Bank CIMB Investment Bank, and CIMB Islamic. It has a 92.5 percent stake in Bank CIMB Niaga in Indonesia as well as a 94.1 percent interest in CIMB Thai in Thailand.