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Philippines' Ayala buys part of DBS stake in bank arm for $616 mln

MANILA, Oct 12 (Reuters) - Philippine conglomerate Ayala Corp confirmed on Friday it had bought part of the stake of Singapore's DBS Group in its banking arm for 25.6 billion pesos ($616 million), raising its interest to more than 40 percent.

DBS's stake in the Bank of Philippine Islands (BPI) falls to 9.9 percent after the sale of a 10.4 percent holding to partner Ayala Corp.

DBS, Southeast Asia's largest lender, said the sale would strengthen its capital base ahead of the implementation of Basel III in 2013 in Singapore.

"This reflects our confidence in the growth potential of BPI particularly amidst the projected expansion of the Philippine economy over the next few years," Fernando Zobel de Ayala, Ayala president and chief operating officer said in a statement.

The move by DBS is also part of Chief Executive Piyush Gupta's broader strategy to focus on larger, controlling stakes in other lenders.

($1 = 41.5900 Philippine pesos)

(Reporting by Rosemarie Francisco; Editing by John Mair)

((rosemarie.francisco@thomsonreuters.com)(+632

841-8937)(Reuters Messaging: rosemarie.francisco.reuters.com@reuters.net))

Keywords: DBS BPI/STAKE