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bcu to consult members on merger opportunity

bcu members will be asked in the new year to have their say on an opportunity for a strategic merger with the Western Australian, customer-owned P&N Bank, before a member vote in mid-2019 makes the final decision, bcu announced today.

Under the proposal, P&N Bank, which operates only on the west coast, would share its systems, digital banking technology and capabilities with bcu. Both banks would maintain their brand, staff, offices and store networks on opposite coasts.

P&N Bank is customer-owned with origins dating back to 1969. The bank currently offers a number of services that bcu does not, including digital wallets, instant digital cards and financial planning.

bcu chairman Steve Targett said a partnership with P&N Bank would pave the way for a bright future for bcu’s brand, stores, local employees, members and the credit union’s investment in the region.

“bcu has been an integral part of the Mid-North coast community for nearly 50 years and we want to ensure that our members have another 50 years to look forward to,” he said.

“That is not realistic in the face of rising costs, decreasing margins, and the required investment in technology and compliance. Therefore, exploring merger opportunities has been a critical part of the bcu board’s strategic planning over the past 12 months.

“Partnering with P&N Bank gives us the opportunity to share the best of each other’s products, services and systems, while retaining our own unique identities and our focus on providing trusted service to our local members.”

Mr Targett said bcu was committed to keeping fees and interest rates as low as possible for members, while supporting growth in the region, keeping stores open and giving members a range of options about how to access their money and banking services.

“We believe that this opportunity would allow us to achieve that well into the future, and we could not have found a more supportive and like-minded partner than in P&N Bank,” Mr Targett said.

“P&N’s commitment to enriching the lives of its local communities aligns with our values. We are excited at the prospect of discussing with our members this opportunity to bring P&N's leading-edge technology to our members.”  

Mr Targett said the key terms of the proposed merger were documented in an agreement, signed yesterday, to exclusively investigate the merger opportunity. The terms of the agreement include:

  • no store closures
  • no forced redundancies
  • that the bcu brand be maintained
  • that Coffs Harbour remains the east-coast headquarters for bcu
  • no reduction in the level of financial investment and support provided by bcu in local communities
  • acceptance of the merger by a member vote.

Mr Targett said the member vote was likely to take place between July and September 2019, after several months of member events, research, consultation and a formal due diligence process to commence in the new year.

“We will be thoroughly consulting with our members before any vote on the proposed merger,” he said.

“This is not a done deal. This is an opportunity that we think is well worth exploring, and we are excited to talk to members about what it would mean for them.

“In the new year, we will be inviting members to attend information events, to speak to the board, share their views and ask us questions before they are asked to vote.”

He said that the bcu board had written today to members and had launched a webpage (www.bcu.com.au/future) where members could find out more.

“I’m looking forward to talking with members throughout the coming months about this opportunity and how they can get involved,” he said.

Any merger will be subject to approval by the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority.