Two large banks controlled by one of the Philippines' richest men have merged, strengthening their position in the country's recovering economy, it was announced Monday. The near-century-old Philippine National Bank (PNB) and Allied Bank, both controlled by tycoon Lucio Tan, announced their merger, with PNB eventually to become the surviving entity. The merged bank, to be the country's fourth largest, will have total assets of 500 billion pesos ($12.2 billion) with 654 domestic branches and 378 billion pesos in deposits, said PNB marketing chief Emmanuel Tuazon. PNB, founded in 1916, was once state-owned but in 1989 the government began privatising it. The bank was eventually acquired by Tan and his allies in 1999. Allied Bank, started in 1977, has long been controlled by Tan who was listed by Forbes in 2012 as the second richest man in the Philippines. He also has extensive interests in tobacco, beer and real estate. Tuazon said the merger plan had been announced over two years ago but it took some time for the two banks to get the necessary approvals.