Heritage Bank and People’s Choice proceed with merger plans

13 April 2022

Highlights

  • Plans to create one of Australia’s largest customer-owned banking organisations will move forward
  • Members will benefit from the merger through access to more branches, a wider range of competitively-priced products and services and contemporary, secure banking technology
  • Both Heritage Bank and People’s Choice remain absolutely committed to mutuality and remaining proudly member-owned
  • Governance structure for merged entity agreed

Heritage Bank and People’s Choice Credit Union, two of Australia’s leading customer-owned banking organisations, will proceed with merger plans following completion of an extensive due diligence process which confirmed the benefits to members of the proposal.

The next step is the regulatory approval process. Members will then have the final say through a member vote in late 2022. 

Strong strategic rationale

The recently completed due diligence confirmed that the proposed merger is a unique and compelling opportunity to combine the best of two member-driven and complementary businesses to improve member benefits including enhanced products, services, digital capabilities and competitive pricing through a growing national footprint, while increasing support for community and environmental initiatives.

The merger will create one of Australia’s largest customer-owned banking organisations with approximately 1,800 employees, 720,000 members and total assets worth more than $22.5 billion.

Governance structure agreed 

A robust governance structure to oversee the management and strategic direction of the combined entity has been agreed. 

Michael Cameron, the current People’s Choice Chairman, will be appointed Chairman and Kerry Betros, the current Heritage Chair, will be appointed Deputy Chair. 

Peter Lock, the current CEO of Heritage, will serve as CEO of the merged organisation and Steve Laidlaw, currently CEO of People’s Choice, will be appointed Deputy CEO. 

Mr Lock will retire 18 months after the establishment of the merged organisation, when Mr Laidlaw will be appointed as CEO. 

This arrangement provides seamless leadership and deep expertise for the merged organisation during the integration period and into the future.

Both organisations will have equal Board representation, with all current directors of both organisations appointed to the new entity’s Board. 

This strong Board and Executive partnership will provide stability, local experience, and long-term succession planning, as well as reflecting the fact that this is a true merger of equals. 

Both organisations are committed to remaining proudly member-owned and, as a result of the merger, there will be no redundancies below executive level, there will be no branch closures, there will be dual head offices in Adelaide and Toowoomba, and most importantly, members will benefit from more branches, better products and services and contemporary, secure banking technology. 

Board and management encourage member support 

Heritage Chief Executive Officer Peter Lock said, “We are confident a merger is firmly in our members’ best interests. Joining forces represents a unique pairing of equals, offering unparalleled cultural and strategic alignment and an absolute commitment to mutuality.”

People’s Choice Chief Executive Officer Steve Laidlaw said, “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 Chairmen of both organisations 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,” Heritage Chairman Kerry Betros said.

“The Board is committed to ensuring that we remain a strong values-driven organisation that is dedicated to mutuality, our members, employees and the communities that we operate in,” People’s Choice Chairman Michael Cameron said.

Next steps

The proposed merger remains subject to regulatory and member approval. Detailed information about the merger proposal will be provided to members ahead of a member vote expected to take place at both organisations’ Annual General Meetings towards the end of 2022. 

Should members vote in favour of the merger, the new organisation is expected to be established in early 2023. 

For more information including FAQs visit heritage.com.au/merger.

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