The Philippine National Bank was established as a government-owned banking institution on July 22, 1916. Its primary mandate was to provide financial services to Philippine industry and agriculture and support the government's economic development effort. World War I, then raging in Europe, generated huge demand for the country's major exports namely: sugar, copra, coconut oil, Manila hemp and tobacco. However, not much was being done to develop the industries that produced these sought-after crops since access to credit facilities was limited. To solve this problem, Henderson Martin, Vice Governor of the Philippines, together with Miguel Cuaderno (who later became Central Bank governor) drafted a charter for a national bank.
On February 4, 1916, Public Act 2612 was passed by the Philippine Legislature providing for the establishment of PNB to replace the small P1 million government-owned Agricultural Bank. PNB's first head office was the Masonic Temple along Escolta, Manila, the then "Wall Street of the Philippines" in the bustling district of Sta. Cruz in Manila. An American, Henry Parker Willis, was its first president.
With PNB's establishment, Filipinos had a bank of their own. PNB was authorized to grant short and long-term loans to agriculture and industry. Filipino farmers then could avail of loans with interest between 8% to 10% per annum. PNB was also authorized to receive deposits, open foreign credits and rediscount bills.
On July 24, 1916, PNB established its first branch in Iloilo. In 1917, PNB opened its first non-Philippine branch in New York. The following year, it established five more domestic branches and another outside the Philippines in Shanghai, China.
PNB has also functioned as the de facto Central Bank of the Philippines until 1949. It was given the special power to issue circulating notes.
PNB briefly ceased operations in January 1942 but reopened the next month under the supervision of Japanese authorities. After the Second World War, PNB reopened immediately and acquired the assets and assumed the liabilities of the banking division of the National Treasury.
With the establishment of the Central Bank in 1949, PNB's role as issuer of currency notes, custodianship of bank reserves, sole depository of government funds and clearing house of the banking system ceased.
In 1955, it was authorized to operate as an investment bank with powers to own shares and to issue debentures. In 1963, it established the National Investment and Development Corporation to engage primarily in long-term and equity financing of business ventures.
In 1980, PNB became the first universal bank in the country. However, it encountered difficulties in the mid-80s as a result of the economic downturn triggered by the assassination of Senator Benigno S. Aquino, Jr and in 1986 received assistance from the government.
The privatization started in 1989 when 30 per cent of its shares were offered to the public and it was listed on the stock exchange.
In 1992, PNB became the first Philippine bank to reach P100 billion in assets. Later that year, privatization continued with a second public offering of its shares.
In 1995, PNB moved to its headquarters to the PNB Financial Center, Central Boulevard (now Diosdado Macapagal Boulevard), Pasay City. In 1996, the Securities and Exchange Commission approved the Bank's new Articles of Incorporation and by-laws and the change in the status of PNB from a government-based to a private corporation with the control of the government reduced to 46 per cent.
In early 2000, the Lucio Tan Group became the single biggest private stockholder. In less than one year, the group pumped nearly P20 billion of fresh capital into the bank.
In late-2000, when PNB suffered huge withdrawals, mainly from the government accounts, the government provided P25 billion in financial aid..
In May 2002, the Philippine government and Lucio Tan signed an agreement to swap the government's loans to shares. The accord increased the government's stake to 45 percent from 16 percent and reduced Lucio Tan's holding to 45 percent from 67 percent. Lucio Tan and the government also agreed that year to sell three-quarters of their combined stake within five years.
Following the Senior Management’s Good Bank-Bad Bank strategy, PNB finally posted an income of P52 million (as restated from an earlier reported figure of P168 million, due to changes in Generally Accepted Accounting Principles) in 2003, after several years of being in the red. The bank was able to repeat this feat and reported an income of P353 million by end-2004.
In August 2005, PNB was fully privatized. The joint sale by the Philippine government and the Lucio Tan Group of the 67% stake in PNB was completed within the third quarter of 2005. The Lucio Tan Group exercised its right to match the P 43.77 per share bid offered by a competitor and purchased the shares owned by the government. The completion of sale is expected to speed up the development of PNB’s franchise and operational competitiveness.
PNB was won by a string of recognition and awards. The Philippine National Bank was recently awarded the 2007 SSS Balikat ng Bayan Award Hall of Fame as Best Paying Bank, the 2007 SSS Balikat ng Bayan Award for Best Collecting Bank for OFW Remittances and the 2007 SSS Balikat ng Bayan Award for Best Paying Commercial Bank. The Hall of Fame Award is given to employers, collecting and paying banks and participating financial institutions in recognition of their invaluable support to the SSS programs and their long years of excellent performance as SSS partners. PNB was awarded as Best Paying Bank during the years 1997, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006 or a total of eight (8) times, clearly indicative of the Bank’s outstanding accomplishment in championing the SSS mission. Accordingly, the Bank was bequeathed the Hall of Fame Award for its consistent practices over the years. Also this year, the Bank emerged as the winner in the Best Collecting Bask for OFW Remittances category, garnering a rating of 86.5% based on the evaluation of the SSS International Affairs & Branch Expansion Division. In order to qualify for the Best Collecting Bank Award for OFW Remittances, a bank has to have a significant quantity of overseas collection, extensive overseas presence, and affordable remittance services. This award reflects PNB’s responsiveness and unwavering commitment to fulfill the needs of both local and Global Filipinos. Lastly, PNB topped the Best Paying Commercial Bank category with an overall rating of 87.45% as evaluated by the SSS Retirement, Death & Funeral Benefits Program. This award is given to accredited banks, which promptly deliver benefits to SSS members. Banks are evaluated in terms of the number of pensioners being served and the number of branches nationwide.
The Balikat ng Bayan Awards serve as PNB’s reassurance to uphold its commitment to its customers, employees and shareholders.
Additionally, PNB was voted by the consumers for the fourth consecutive year (2003-2007) as Most Trusted Brand - Gold Category from the joint survey of the venerable international publication, Reader’s Digest, and global media research giant, ACNielsen, along with a host of other brand leaders in the consumer product categories.
PNB has also stepped up its marketing efforts to overseas Filipino workers with its PNB Global Filipino Money Card.
Complementing PNB's banking activities are its subsidiaries like PNB General Insurers, a non-life insurance company; PNB Capital, an investment bank; PNB Securities, a stock brokerage outfit and PNB Forex, which engages in foreign exchange trading. It also has a majority stake in PNB-Japan Leasing Corp. For life insurance requirements of PNB clients, it has a substantial equity stake in Beneficial PNB Life.
On December 7, 2007, the Supreme Court of the Philippines affirmed a judgment dismissing the state's sequestration of Lucio Tan's companies: "There can be no question that indeed, petitioner's (the government's) orders of sequestration are void and have no legal effect." The landmark decision would trigger a planned merger between Philippine National Bank (PNB) and another Tan's Allied Banking Corporation. Edgar Bancod, research head, ATR-Kim Eng Securities, stated that the merged bank would become the country's 4th biggest after Metropolitan Bank & Trust Co., Banco de Oro-EPCI Inc., and Bank of the Philippine Islands.
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