REFILE-Malaysia's CIMB looking at mid-tier Philippine banks

Wed May 21, 2014 10:07am EDT

(Adds chief executive's first name in fourth paragraph)

MANILA May 21 (Reuters) - Malaysia's CIMB Group Holdings Bhd is looking at mid-tier Philippine banks as possible acquisition targets after its failed attempt to buy into a local bank last year, its chief executive said on Wednesday.

CIMB, Malaysia's second-largest lender and Southeast Asia's fifth-largest lender by assets, walked away from a deal to acquire control of the Philippines' Bank of Commerce due to valuation issues.

It wants to gain a foothold in the Philippines as part of a regional expansion plan.

"We will be looking at the mid-tier space, as opposed to large banks here," CIMB Chief Executive Nazir Razak told reporters on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum on East Asia meeting in Manila.

"We want to buy a platform that can be integrated with our Asean platform," he said.

CIMB Group Deputy Chief Executive Lee Kwok Kwan on Tuesday declined to comment on media reports that CIMB was considering buying into Philippine National Bank, owned by the country's second-richest man Lucio Tan.

It was taking time for the group to find an acquisition target due to valuations, Lee told Reuters in Manila on the sidelines of a meeting of Southeast Asian finance ministers.

Lee also said CIMB expected the Asia equity and corporate finance businesses it acquired in 2012 from the Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc to break even this year and make a profit in 2015. (Reporting by Siegfrid Alegado and Rosemarie Francisco; Editing by Erica Billingham)

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