ONB gets Singaporean partner, MSME lending pushed

It looks like rural banking`s market leader got a foreign partner.

Singapore based Osmanthus Investment Holdings Pte. Ltd. (Singapore) has agreed to come in as a strategic partner of BDO Unibank, Inc. by acquiring a 15 percent stake in the rural bank One Network Bank, Inc. (ONB)

In a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange, BDO Unibank said that it has entered into an agreement with the Singaporean firm to formalize the working relationship between ONB and Osmanthus.

In a Manila Bulletin article posted October 1, 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. BDO will retain a majority 85 percent ownership, providing continued financial and operational synergies to ONB.

“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. It 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.

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. ONB is the BDO groups rural banking subsidiary, and has extensive operations in the Visayas and Mindanao with over 50 branches.