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BRANCH BANKING | Tony Chua, Philippines

BPI proceeds with expansion in Europe

Lender to gain foothold in Europe starting with setting up branch in Italy this year.

The Bank of the Philippine Islands, one of the biggest banking channels for overseas Filipino remittances, will proceed with expansion plans in the European Union despite feeling the pinch from the recent fiscal crisis in the region.

BPI will open a new branch in Italy this year and another in Spain in 2011, according to BPI president Aurelio Montinola III.

“Since we’re looking long term, the time to move is when markets are, shall we say, less buoyant,” Montinola said in a recent briefing. “If you’re investing, it’s always good to invest when things get mixed views as the ability to have better cost is there.”

Southeast Asia’s oldest bank has hit the one-million mark in terms of overseas Filipino depositor base, accounting for a quarter of its four million total retail customer base.

It has a unit registered in England and Wales, BPI Europe Plc, which it can use as a passport to open branches in other states across Europe. To date, BPI Europe has two branches in London.

View the full story in the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

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