Heritage Bank and People’s Choice to explore merger opportunity

18 August 2021

Heritage Bank and People’s Choice Credit Union, two of Australia’s leading customer-owned banking organisations, have announced they have entered into a non-binding agreement to explore a merger opportunity.

If a merger were to proceed, both organisations’ members would benefit from being part of one of Australia’s largest customer-owned banking organisations with approximately 700,000 members and $22 billion in total assets.

The proposed merger has a strong strategic rationale given the complementary capabilities and geographic footprint of both parties. By joining forces, the merged entity would be of a size and scale that would enable both organisations to deliver more for their members through enhanced products, services, digital capabilities and competitive pricing.

The combined entity would retain a mutual status with a committed member focus.

It would operate a national network of more than 90 branches and employ approximately 1,700 people. There would be no branch closures or non-executive redundancies as a result of the proposed merger.

People’s Choice Chairman, Michael Cameron, said, “Heritage and People’s Choice have been in discussions for several months. We recognise that we are both strong businesses, with approximately the same number of members, employees and assets so if a merger proceeds it would be a true merger of equals”.

Heritage Chairman, Kerry Betros, said, “Our members’ interests will be the most important consideration in any decision to merge and they will have the final say in any potential merger”.

“While we are both successful organisations, joining forces would provide us with the scale, profile and nationwide presence to redefine mutual banking for current and future members,” Heritage CEO, Peter Lock, said.

“People’s Choice and Heritage are both strong values-driven organisations that are committed to mutuality, their members, employees and the communities that they operate in,” People’s Choice CEO, Steve Laidlaw, said.

“Together, the merged entity would enable us to significantly enhance our ability to invest in a broader range of products and services as well as providing access to digital capabilities that will benefit our members,” Mr Lock and Mr Laidlaw said.

If the merger proceeded, both organisations would have equal Board representation and head offices would be retained in both Toowoomba and Adelaide.

A detailed and thorough due diligence process is now underway to assess the member benefits. If both organisations decide to proceed, the proposal will go to a member vote which would occur in early 2022.

Members of both organisations do not need to do anything at this stage. Should the merger proceed to a vote, further information will be provided to them to enable an informed decision with respect to the proposed merger.

Heritage and People’s Choice will provide further updates as required as the discussions progress.

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