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Heritage, People’s Choice push ahead with merger

Heritage Bank and People’s Choice Credit Union have travelled further towards consolidation, having confirmed their new leadership structure should the union succeed.

The two customer-owned banking groups confirmed that they had completed their due diligence processes, satisfied that the proposed amalgamation would benefit members.

The next step for the pair is the regulatory approval process, before a member vote at both organisations’ annual general meetings in late 2022.

Should members green-light the deal, the new bank will be established in early 2023.

The merger will form one of Australia’s larger mutual banks, with around 1,800 employees, 720,000 members and total assets weighing in at more than $22.5 billion.

Heritage Bank and People’s Choice reported it would provide “enhanced products, services, digital capabilities and competitive pricing through a growing national footprint, while increasing support for community and environmental initiatives”.

Leadership structure confirmed

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People’s Choice chair Michael Cameron will be appointed chair of the merged organisation, while Kerry Betros, the current Heritage chair, will take the role of deputy chair.

Heritage chief executive Peter Lock will be crowned CEO, as People’s Choice boss Steve Laidlaw will become deputy CEO.

However, Mr Lock would retire 18 months after the merged entity is established, with Mr Laidlaw set to replace him.

Both groups will have equal board representation, with all current directors to switch over.

People’s Choice and Heritage also promised that there will be no redundancies below the executive level and no branch closures.

There will be dual head offices in Adelaide and Toowoomba.

“We are confident a merger is firmly in our member’s best interests,” Mr Lock said.

“Joining forces represents a unique pairing of equals, offering unparalleled cultural and strategic alignment and an absolute commitment to mutuality.”

Mr Laidlaw added: “By coming together we will create a national member-owned banking organisation that will be of a size and scale to enable us to deliver outstanding products and services for our members.”

The chairs of both organisations have encouraged members to support the merger.

“This is an exciting opportunity that will enhance the legacies of both our organisations in our respective communities and will see all members benefit from a stronger, united customer-owned banking organisation,” Mr Betros said.

[Related: Treasurer green-lights NAB, Citi deal]

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