Philippine National Bank Says It's Not for Sale, Instead Seeking Takeovers

Philippine National Bank said it is not in talks with investors seeking to buy the company and plans to acquire smaller rivals once it completes the takeover of Allied Banking Corp.

“We are not for sale and in fact, we, ourselves, will be hunting as opportunities arise, preferably once we’ve completed the merger with Allied scheduled by the latter part of the year,” President Eugene Acevedo said in a phone interview today in Manila. “We are not in negotiations with any buyer.”

Acevedo made the comments after the bank shares surged 13 percent, their biggest gain since April 2009, in part on speculation the nation’s fifth-largest lender was an acquisition target. Shares in the bank, known as PNB and controlled by billionaire Lucio Tan, have risen 43 percent this month.

“There’s value in PNB, even without these talks of the bank getting acquired,” said Erwin Balita, an analyst at Manila-based SB Equities Inc. “The stock is below book value and this speculation is hastening the recovery in PNB’s share price.”

Philippine National is boosting staff in treasury and sales as it aims to regain the lead in handling overseas remittances, bolster trading gains, attract more retail and credit card customers and boost asset management, Acevedo said in an interview in June. He was formerly Citigroup Inc.’s managing director and head of global markets for Hong Kong and Taiwan.

‘Positive Changes’

The bank, which recently hired Ricky Cebrero to head its treasury and Malou Liwag to lead marketing, announced today that former treasurer Ramon Lim will be Acevedo’s chief of staff.

“We’d like to think that the share price is due to the positive changes that are taking place and also because of the impending merger,” Acevedo said.

Allied, also controlled by Tan, has agreed to sell a 28 percent stake in U.S.-based Oceanic Holding Ltd., one of the requirements for the merger to proceed.

PNB is trading at 0.99 of its estimated 44.08 peso book value a share, according to Bloomberg data. PNB is worth 28.81 billion pesos ($622 million) based on today’s closing share price. The bank had 280.7 billion pesos of assets at the end of the first quarter. Allied Bank, which is not publicly traded, had 158.4 billion pesos in assets.

“We would like to look at banks with branch networks and into customer segments we don’t currently service,” he said.

PNB closed at 43.50 pesos a share at the noon end of trading in Manila. That’s the highest since January 2008.

To contact the reporters for this story: Clarissa Batino in Manila at cbatino@bloomberg.net.

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