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Beyond Bank, South West Credit Union flirt with merger

The credit union and bank have entered into merger discussions, looking to potentially form “one of Australia’s larger customer-owned banking organisations”.

The two groups declared the potential merger on Thursday (4 November), stating they would benefit from combining South West Credit Union’s 13,000-odd members in Warrnambool, Victoria, with Beyond Bank’s 275,000 customers and $8 billion in assets under management.

South West Credit Union, which was formed in 1964, has traditionally served members in Warrnambool.

Beyond Bank on the other hand, has a greater national presence, with around 40 branches across South Australia, the ACT, Western Australia, Sydney, Newcastle, the Hunter Valley and Riverina regions.

In a joint statement, the two groups said members would benefit from “being part of one of Australia’s larger customer-owned banking organisations”.

David Brown, chief executive of South West Credit Union, stated the board had sought a mutual partner to go forward with in its next phase of growth.

“Combining forces with Beyond Bank Australia, a leader in the customer owned with its strong financial positions and regional Australia service footprint will allow us to provide members with a broader array of customer and community focused services,” Mr Brown said.

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Beyond Bank CEO Robert Keogh meanwhile commented the boards of both organisations shared a strong cultural alignment and similar strategic aims.

“Our bank has a strong position in the national financial services market and this proposed merger will build on our commitment to regional Australia and provide a very clear alternative in the market for people in Warrnambool,” Mr Keogh said.

The potential deal has followed other similar developments in the mutual banking space. 

Earlier this week, Teachers Mutual completed a merger with Pulse Credit Union, which came after its merger with Firefighters Credit Co-operative in May. 

Other mergers have been in play, including Newcastle Permanent seeking to potentially amalgamate with rival mutual group Greater Bank

Newcastle Permanent chair Jeff Eather told Mortgage Business that he believes the mutual merger mania will continue, as smaller banks seek scale to manage technology costs and fight for relevance. 

Meanwhile, Heritage Bank and People’s Choice Credit Union are also in the process of completing due diligence for a potential merger, with a member vote due in early 2022.

[Related: Smaller banks on edge watching APRA's next steps]

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