By HARRY CLARKE
THE Toowoomba-based Heritage Bank has announced a major growth milestone as plans progress for its proposed $22 billion merger with another customer-owned financial institution.
Heritage CEO Peter Lock today announced a record volume of lending and total assets hitting $12 billion for the first time in the bank’s half year results, which was up 2 percent on the six months to June 30 last year.
Loan approvals hit a record amount for a half-year period at $1.399 billion, up 22.21% on the same period the previous year, while net loan growth for the period was $113.54 million, up 88% on the corresponding period.
“We’ve enjoyed a solid half-year performance in competitive market conditions,” Mr Lock said.
“Our profit has held up well considering the pressure on key revenue lines evident across the industry.
“Our record volume of loan approvals was an outstanding performance in the current environment and growing our total consolidated assets beyond the $12 billion milestone reflects our strength.”
Mr Lock has also revealed that plans for a proposed merger with fellow customer-owned bank People’s Choice Credit Union were forging ahead.
If the merger, first flagged in August, were to proceed, the newly established institution would oversee more than $22 billion in total assets and proceed under a new name and brand.
It would operate a network of more than 90 branches and employ approximately 1,700 people. A Heritage Bank statement has said there would be no branch closures or non-executive redundancies as a result of the merger.
“The bank from Toowoomba – if this goes ahead – becomes the eighth largest bank in Australia, and I think that’s pretty cool when you consider what we came from and what we are aiming for,” Mr Lock told a TSBE networking event at Parliament House.
“There will be a new brand that comes about from this. We don’t have the name of that yet but we are confident that will honour the heritage of both organisations.
He said the company would have two headquarters – one in Adelaide and a newly built, “campus style” building in the Toowoomba CBD.
“We’re in a tender situation at the moment for a new head office and I don’t think that there would be a more concrete way that we can show our commitment to our region than by building a brand new head office in the centre of the city,” Mr Lock said.
“We’re looking at sites at the moment and we hope to have a campus style, iconic building in the centre of town ready for our 150 year anniversary, which is only three years away.