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South West Credit, Beyond Bank edge closer to merger

Beyond Bank and South West Credit have confirmed there is only one hurdle left for their consolidation, after the majority of the credit union’s members voted yes.

South West Credit Union held a special general meeting on Monday (21 March), where 92.6 per cent of its members voted in favour of its proposed merger with Beyond Bank.

The two companies are now waiting for regulatory approval, with the merger expected to take place from 1 April.

The union would combine South West Credit’s 13,000-odd members in Warrnambool, Victoria, and $7.7 billion in assets with Beyond Bank’s 275,000 customers and $8 billion in assets.

While the branding for South West Credit will switch to Beyond Bank, the credit union’s chief executive David Brown said there will otherwise be no changes for customers or staff.

“There’ll be no change for customers, it’ll be seamless,” he told Mortgage Business.

“Systems integrations will occur over the following six months including services from the branches and products will remain the same.”

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The transition of all data has been planned for early September, as the two companies integrate their systems.

At the same time, all South West Credit Union staff will stay on, including Mr Brown.

It will retain its branch in Warrnambool, Victoria, while its customers gain access to Beyond Bank’s 40-odd branches, which extend across Victoria, NSW, South Australia, the ACT and Western Australia, as well as Australia Post’s Bank@Post service.

Beyond Bank will also provide South West Credit customers with a broader range of services, including wealth management, insurance, life membership packages and business banking.

Meanwhile, Beyond Bank has flagged that it would expand its broker reach across regional Victoria and South Australia, following the deal.

Robert Keogh, CEO of Beyond Bank, commented: “We are delighted to merge with South West Credit as we are aligned in so many ways, through our values, our purpose and our commitment to local communities, including those across regional Australia.”

In the lead-up to the special meeting, South West Credit urged its members to approve the merger, pointing to pressures for smaller banking players, including cut-throat competition, high costs, compliance burdens and technology needs.

The board expects the deal to grow its scale, boost its competitive force, provide a larger balance sheet and improve cost efficiencies.

Over the past 10 years, the number of credit unions and mutual banks in Australia has more than halved from more than 150 to 58, South West Credit explained in a document shared with its members.

As such, recent deals have included the marriage of Teachers Mutual to both Pulse Credit Union and Firefighters Credit Co-operative, while Heritage Bank and People’s Choice Credit Union are considering linking up.

The boards of Newcastle Permanent and Greater Bank have recently signalled their support of a merger, with approval now needed from members and regulators.

[Related: La Trobe CEO to exit after $1.5bn sale]

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