Ty-blings v Ayala-Gokongwei in trillion pesos banking war: Metrobank barely clings on to No. 2 spot even after BPI merger with Robinsons Bank

The battle for second place in the list of the country’s biggest banks is heating up.

Bank of the Philippines Islands (BPI) is threatening to topple rival Metropolitan Bank and Trust Co.(MBT) of the Ty family from its No. 2 spot following the Ayala-led bank’s proposed merger with Robinsons Bank of the Gokongwei family.

Based on data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas as of end-June 2022, BPI’s total assets are expected to swell to P2.64 trillion if it swallows RBank’s P175.9 billion assets.

But this is still P23.6 billion short of MBT’s P2.663 trillion assets as of the first half this year.

This means MBT will continue to hold on to its No. 2 spot, albeit barely which it has held since the banking mergers and acquisitions frenzy 23 years ago.

In October 1999, BPI leapfrogged MBT as the country’s biggest bank after the Ayalas merged with Far East Bank and Trust Co. (FEBTC).

A key FEBTC shareholder, the late taipan John Gokongwei, chose to sell his 20 percent stake to BPI rather than to MBT whose then owner, the late taipan George Ty, had already acquired a six percent stake in FEBTC and also offered to buy out Gokongwei’s share.

This spurred George to hunt for another bank to acquire and, a few months later, reached a deal with the Madrigal and Lim families for the purchase of an initial one percent stake in Solid Banking Corp. (George bought another 40 percent stake owned by Bank of Nova Scotia).

MBT merged with Solidbank (along with the small banks – Asian Bank and Philippine Banking Corp. – bought by its affiliate Global Bank) and regained pole position in the industry just months after losing it to BPI.

(MBT relinquished its top ranking in 2007 when BDO Unibank took over Equitable-PCIbank from tycoon George Go. BDO has assets of P3.8 trillion as of June 2022.).

History shows MBT is not one to stay idle especially when its industry position is under threat. So bring out the popcorn and let’s all enjoy the show.