The real score

Published January 15, 2021, 6:00 AM

by Fil C. Sionil

Papa Ben tells me  that the selection procedure of the next president of the Bankers Association  of the Philippines (BAP)  is a “fascinating process,” this year. The nomination forms were farmed out to the 45 member-banks on the day I wrote about the leadership succession in the BAP.

Papa Ben is Benjamin Castillo, the executive director of the BAP. This quintessential, seasoned, forever-reliable officer of the organization, painstakingly, in a mild manner without losing control, explained some of the few omissions in my opening salvo for the year.

Now, here’s the real score. Given that Cesar “Bong” Consing remains as the BPI (Bank of the Philippine Islands) president in March when the election of the BAP board is scheduled, he remains as  sitting president of one of the biggest banks in the country.

Mr. Bong’s retirement  will be  in the third week of the April, shortly after the BPI stockholders’ meeting. For now, Jose Teodoro “TG” Limcaoco is waiting on the sidelines to take over the bank’s leadership despite the decision of the owners to already name him as the replacement of Mr. Bong as early as December last year.

“True, Bong Consing’s retirement from BPI will have a ripple effect on the group’s leadership because he remains the chief executive officer (CEO) of the bank when the new board is elected among the members,” Mr. Ben explains.

As early as last year, Bong already made it known that he is no longer available for any BAP position.

 Another factor that makes it more enthralling is the availability of the members to comprise the board. There are 45-member bank but out of the 45, 23 are foreign banks and 22 are domestic lenders. Foreign financial institutions are prohibited from the assuming the presidency but they are allowed to sit in the board.

The four-year limitation period also kicks in for both the institutions the bankers represent as well as their  persona, as  in the case of BPI, while Mr. TG is new as a persona, he cannot be a board member because the four-year cap has been breached when Mr. Bong steps down.  

Eugene Acevedo of RCBC has been with the board for four years. Also, EastWest Bank. Under the BAP rules and regulations, the person and the institution have to take a one-year “leave of absence” after the four-year limit.

 “This narrows down to a handful the candidates for prospective president,”  Mr. Ben said as he named Fabian S. Dee of Metrobank, BDO Universal Bank’s Nestor V. Tan; and Edwin Bautista of Union Bank of the Philippines.

He might not be a “new kid on the block” but Mr. Jose Arnulfo “Wick” Veloso, who took the Philippine National Bank (PNB) leadership in the third quarter of 2019 is considered a “fresh face” this year following his more than a one-year hiatus from the BAP board because he hit the four-year cap during his stint as HSBC country head.

This is where the excitement comes in. For the so-called BAP keeper Mr. Ben, the situation is very dodgy. “The possibility of NVT (the industry’s term of endearment for Mr. Tan of BDO)  again steering the association comes to fore. Not to be discounted are Mr. Wick and Fabian.”

Mr. Wick responded to my request for an e-conversation but his  piece surpassed my space cap to include his personal take. And I’ve to shift through the reactions and comments on my wall.

Rest assured we will provide you with an update of this continuing saga.

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