Sicat unveils strategy for ING’s PH franchise

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New ING Bank country head in Manila, Hans Sicat, with outgoing country manager and managing director, Consuelo Garcia. HANDOUT PHOTO

MANILA – Dutch financial giant ING expects to play a bigger role in facilitating cross-border deals and to become more active in advisory, debt and equity capital markets, lending and structured products.

This was the direction set out by former Philippine Stock Exchange president and CEO Hans B. Sicat, who formally assumes the top post at ING Bank in Manila on Nov. 16.

“The economy is on a roll and this is the right time and the right place to contribute to building the country’s financial infrastructure,” said Sicat in an exchange with media on Wednesday.

Sicat, who recently ended his six-year term at PSE, said his new role would allow him a bigger platform to help Philippine companies, given ING Bank’s award-winning franchise in Manila and its international network across 40 countries.

The Dutch financial institution has recently been named “Best Bank in the World” by prestigious international publication Global Finance for 2017. ING is also one of the strongest banks in Europe with a market capitalization of over US$70 billion.

In Manila, ING has built a solid reputation for being a trusted advisor in corporate finance, particularly in mergers and acquisitions (M&A). Since it started operating in 1990, ING has arranged 87 M&A deals worth around US$26 billion and 117 capital market transactions amounting to over US$28 billion in the Philippines. “We need to strongly demonstrate this strength to our clients, particularly to up-and-coming conglomerates that need our service to grow bigger,” Sicat added.

Of the key sectors of the economy, he identified four areas with bigger business potential for ING Bank: renewable energy; telecom, media and technology; the branded consumer sector; and portfolio structuring and restructuring for conglomerates.

Renewable energy (RE) is familiar territory for ING. In 2016, over 58% of the Dutch bank’s project financing and other lending went to renewable energy projects such as wind, solar, water, and geothermal power. In the Philippines, ING Bank has also demonstrated its expertise in RE when it acted as lead arranger of the 150-MW Burgos Wind Project in 2014, the first structure to be built under the country’s Renewable Energy Law which has since won five international awards.

Another sector that ING is focusing on is telecom, media and technology (TMT), given the rapidly growing rate of internet penetration and smartphone usage across the country. ING can offer TMT companies custom-built solutions such as secured and unsecured debt, bridge loans and debt capital market related products, project finance and advisory, and funding for capital expenditures and for working capital.

Another key sector is the branded consumer sector, which has been driven by the country’s strong growth and increasing purchasing power. “The branded consumer space is becoming a burgeoning market for both local and foreign retailers thus we see tremendous growth opportunity in this sector,” he explained.

A largely untapped business segment ING sees potential in is portfolio structuring and restructuring for conglomerates. As a growing number of local conglomerates are undergoing transformation, Mr. Sicat said demand for portfolio restructuring would increase for companies