Alex Buenaventura, ONB president, said they intend to open five branches every year in five years, mostly in rural areas.
The 25 branches might not even be enough compared to the number of branches they need to open, Buenaventura told reporters Wednesday after the Club 888 press conference.
ONB posted a 69-percent increase in income in 2006 at P245 million, compared to P145 million in 2005.
He attributed the bank's recovery of loans from public school teachers as the main impetus for the increase.
He said the bank's performance improved when they offered agribusiness loans and also direct commercial banking services
The bank has 64 branches around Mindanao and is scheduled to open in March another branch in Sasa district, Davao City.
Buenaventura said ONB has a P903-million net capital at the end of 2006, which qualifies them to move from a rural bank to a thrift bank. An initial capital to open a thrift bank is P280 million.
He said, however, that it is still short of converting the bank into a commercial bank, which requires them to put up a capital of at least P2.7 billion.
Buenaventura said they intend to stay as a rural bank and will not shift to a thrift or a commercial bank. "We’d rather be the biggest rural bank with commercial banking services, than just be one of them," he said.
He said ONB was able to capture the commercial banking needs of big businesses in the areas where they have branches. He said even if there were only a few of these depositors, he cited that these depositors are some of the biggest depositors in more urbanized areas.
ONB, which uses the slogan "Pera ng Mindanao, Para sa Mindanao," intends to open branches only in Mindanao. He said they do not believe in redirecting their focus in other areas as they see a lot of potential for growth and expansion in Mindanao.
He said another of ONB's strength is their very wide distributor network of big banks, which do not have branches in Mindanao. He said there are also ongoing negotiations for distributorship services to international banks.
In 2006, the Rural Banking Corporation of the Philippines reported that Mindanao accounts for roughly $4 billion in remittance business of the $8.6 billion recorded in 2004.
ONB is the first rural bank to get the nod of the Philippine Clearing House Corp. (PCHC) for its first-ever checking account.
The direct PCHC transaction, instead of a commercial bank acting as clearing bank, sped up and expedited clearing of its own checking account.
ONB is a merger between three Mindanao-based rural banks, Network Rural Bank (Davao del Sur), the Rural Bank of Panabo (Davao del Norte), and the Provident Rural Bank of Cotabato (North Cotabato).