By James A. Loyola
Osmanthus Investment Holdings Pte. Ltd. (Singapore) is coming in as a strategic partner of BDO Unibank, Inc. in One Network Bank, Inc. (ONB) by acquiring a 15 percent stake in rural bank.
BDO said in a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange that it has entered into an agreement with the Singaporean firm to formalize the working relationship between ONB and Osmanthus.
It said Osmanthus has been helping ONB since last year in developing the framework for its MSME lending business, leading to the establishment of the initial pilot test sites before the end of 2017.
“The partnership with Osmanthus will further strengthen ONB’s strategic foothold in the microfinance business, and contribute to the government’s efforts at improving financial inclusion,” BDO said.
Osmanthus is a unit of Singapore-based private equity firm Archipelago Capital Partners Pte. Ltd., a Singapore based fund that invests in small to mid-market companies in South East Asia.
Archipelago is managed by former McKinsey and banking professionals, led by its Chief Executive Officer Jovasky Pang, who have had extensive experience in microfinance in Asia.
Pang, also a co-founder of Archipelago, was previously involved in growing BOC Fullerton Community Bank into the biggest village bank group in China, and also headed the SME and Commercial business of Bank Danamon Indonesia.
BDO will retain a majority 85 percent ownership, providing continued financial and operational synergies to ONB.
The bank said its partnership with Osmanthus in ONB is expected to accelerate ONB’s ongoing thrust into the micro-SME (MSME) market and further extend coverage of the unbanked and underserved markets.
“We believe in the vast potential of the MSME market in the Philippines and are committed to help ONB achieve a leading position in serving these customers. We are also excited by the prospect of having a partner like BDO who shares our vision of financial inclusion,” said Pang.