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Ambassador Jose Cuisia and BPI President Aurelio Montinola, 3rd and 4th from left, are shown with (l-r) Mr. James Holt, President of the Memphis in May Festival, and the Economic Club of Memphis' Leigh Shockey, Michael Drury, and Susan Arney.

10 MAY 2012, MEMPHIS, TENNESEE. Mr. Aurelio Montinola III, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Bank of the Philippine Islands, served as the guest speaker of the Economic Club of Memphis yesterday.  The event serves as one of the activities in the on-going Memphis in May Festival.

The Harvard-educated banker cited the challenges, which were raised at the recent Asian Development Bank meeting in Manila, that the world economy confronts, including high oil prices, the threat of a double dip recession in the United States, worries over China’s hard landing, and possibilities of a Euro zone contagion.  He was upbeat over growth prospects in the ASEAN region, with its efforts toward closer economic integration, and said that Asia remains resilient.

Providing an account of the gains the Philippines has achieved since the assumption of President Benigno Aquino into office, Mr. Montinola proclaimed that the country is no longer considered the “sick man of Asia.”  He noted that the Aquino administration’s good governance agenda has translated to an improvement in the Philippines’ political situation and fiscal position.  He pointed to the country’s healthy banking system and added that the Philippines is no longer indebted to the International Monetary Fund, but is now in-fact a net creditor.

Mr. Montinola listed the areas where focus is being devoted by the Philippine economic managers – agriculture, infrastructure, and tourism.  He also enumerated the Philippines’ edge in the English proficiency of its workforce, spectacular returns investors in the stock market have been receiving, strong local currency, and borrowing rates to access foreign funds that are even more advantageous compared to certain investment grade countries.  He urged investors to seize opportunities the Philippines presents, including its free trade zones and large infrastructure projects being offered to qualified bidders.

Among his other positions, Mr. Montinola also serves as President of the Bankers Association of the Philippines and Director of the Makati Business Club.  He graduated with a BS Management Engineering degree at the Ateneo de Manila University in 1973 and obtained his MBA at the Harvard Business School in 1977. (END)