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Kina in talks with regulator on Westpac Pacific sale

By Sarah Kendell
2 minute read

Westpac’s suitor for its Pacific-based businesses has made overtures to the PNG competition regulator after it knocked back the group’s bid to purchase the division earlier this year.

In an announcement to the market on Monday, Kina Securities, who was lined up to purchase Westpac’s 89 per cent stake in Westpac PNG until the deal was rejected by the country’s Independent Competition and Consumer Commission last month, said it had “presented a vigorous strategy” for the acquisition to the regulator on 11 August.

Kina chairman Isikeli Taureka said the deal would allow more competition, innovation and choice in the local banking sector if it was approved by the ICCC.

“Our mission is to constantly improve the prosperity of the people, communities and markets that we serve,” Mr Taureka said.

“We strongly believe that this transaction should be approved by the ICCC.”

Kina managing director and chief executive Greg Pawson said the acquisition strategy would see the group rebrand Westpac’s Pacific businesses, including Westpac PNG and Westpac Fiji, to East West Commercial Bank – a new brand that would compete directly with Kina in the local market.

Mr Pawson added that the group would invest 25 million PNG kina – the local currency – in expanding the current Westpac PNG branch network by 50 per cent in the three years following the acquisition.

“We will retain the existing Westpac corporate structure, banking license, operations and technology – and simply rebrand as East West Commercial Bank. This exciting new bank brand will also be used for Westpac Fiji and positioned as PNG’s international bank brand,” Mr Pawson said.

“Expanding the distribution footprint will ensure more competition in locations across PNG which are currently served only by one bank or not at all. It’s a huge commitment to reinvigorate financial inclusion.”

He added that Kina would retain all existing Westpac staff and add 50 further jobs in PNG within the first 12 months of the transaction.

The group is due to make further submissions to the ICCC around the deal this week before it hands down its final determination in September.