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People's Choice courts Queensland merger


Adelaide-based People’s Choice Credit Union has announced plans to merge with Toowoomba-based Heritage Bank in a bid to create one of Australia’s largest customer-owned banking organisations.

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The two companies announced this morning they had entered into the non-binding agreement to explore a merger opportunity.

If it goes ahead, the combined entity would operate a national network of more than 90 branches and employ approximately 1,700 people.

The companies have said there would be no branch closures or non-executive redundancies as a result of the proposed merger.

People’s Choice is Australia’s largest credit union with 390,000 members, almost 900 employees, $9.9 billion in total assets and 34 branches and advice centres in South Australia, Victoria, Northern Territory and Western Australia.

Heritage is one of Australia’s oldest and largest customer-owned banks with 320,000 members, 800 employees, $11.9 billion in total assets, and 60 branches and mini branches in Queensland and New South Wales.

People’s Choice chairman Michael Cameron said the two organisations had 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,” he said.

In a joint statement, People’s Choice CEO Steve Laidlaw and Heritage CEO Peter Lock said joining forces would provide the scale, profile and nationwide presence to redefine mutual banking for current and future members.

“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,” Lock and Laidlaw said.

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

It is understood that if the merger goes ahead, it is likely that the two brands would remain in the short term but would eventually adopt a new name.

A detailed and thorough due diligence process is now underway to assess the member benefits of a merger.

If both organisations decide to proceed, the proposal will go to a member vote which would occur in early 2022.

SA-based Australian Central Credit Union and Savings & Loans merged in 2009 with members voting to name the new organisation People’s Choice Credit Union in 2011.

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