BRANCH BANKING | Staff Reporter, Philippines

Five foreign banks end Philippine operations

Financial turmoil in their home countries forces American Express Bank and four other foreign banks to depart the Philippines.

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, the central bank, identified the other banks as Societe General, Union Bank of California N.A., First International Bank and Fortis Bank. All five banks are selling their assets to generate liquidity for their financially troubled parent firms. BSP Deputy Governor Nestor Espenilla Jr. said the Philippine banking sector will not be severely affected by the pull out.

He said the five banks accounted for a very small portion of the total assets of the Philippine banking sector. “The closure of the offices in the Philippines is a case of deleveraging that is happening now in the West,” Espenilla said. He said the banks were making money, mostly from foreign-exchange lending, but were pulling out because their parent firms remain strapped for cash.

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