San Miguel unit consolidates stake in Bank of Commerce

Posted at 02/15/2010 6:06 PM | Updated as of 02/16/2010 12:51 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The property arm of food-to-power conglomerate San Miguel Corp. said on Monday it will transfer a portion of its 31% interest in mid-sized Philippine lender Bank of Commerce to different units in the group.

San Miguel Properties Inc. said it is selling 21% of its 31% stake in the unlisted bank to "various interested buyers."

A San Miguel officer, in a phone interview with abs-cbnNEWS.com, clarified that these buyers are also part of the San Miguel group.

The stake sale comes more than two years after the San Miguel group initially bought 34% of Bank of Commerce, the country's 15th largest lender by assets, for around P2 billion ($43 million).

While the conglomerate unloaded part of its stake, it was still keen on subscribing to Bank of Commerce's planned share issue aimed at raising about P6.9 billion in fresh capital, said an industry source who asked not to be identified because he was not authorised to speak to the media.

San Miguel, established in 1890, has been diversifying out of its key food and drinks businesses, selling part of its core assets to invest in heavy industry including power, infrastructure, telecommunications and mining.

Officials of San Miguel and Bank of Commerce were not immediately available for comment. - with report from Reuters