THE NATIONAL – Bank South Pacific (BSP) says it is waiting for few more regulatory approvals before it can fully acquire the banking operations of Westpac in Samoa, Cook Islands, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Tonga for A$125 million (US$99 million).
Chief executive officer Robin Fleming said the bank was targeting end of May to complete the transactions.
He told The National BSP representatives had engaged with staff from Westpac operations in the five countries and the outcome was positive.
“Target is at the end of this month, but we need to get a couple of the regulatory approvals,” Fleming said.
“Two have been approved; we still got three others from around the Pacific island countries.
“In the last four weeks, our deputy general manager travelled around each of these countries (Samoa, Cook Islands, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Tonga) talking to all the staff about Bank South Pacific and PNG and I think has a success rate of 99.9 per cent.
“All the staff has signed up to come over and work with Bank South Pacific.
“It’s really critical to have the staff feeling comfortable with BSP.
“The staff say once the approval has come through we are going to work with BSP. We are comfortable, happy and confident to work with BSP.”
BSP is a major commercial banking and finance group across PNG, Solomon Islands and Fiji, with assets of approximately K16 billion (US$5.9 billion) representing approximately 38 per cent of loans and 49 per cent of deposits across those markets respectively.
In PNG, the BSP Group holds approximately 50 per cent market share in both loans and deposits.
In terms of the bank’s investment this year, Fleming said: “The Pacific Games sponsorship has been a significant investment over the last three years (2013-2015) and is a landmark event for PNG and particularly BSP in our 40th anniversary.
“We are now positioning ourselves to how we approach our sponsorship across the whole Pacific region; the real need is for a little bit more social responsibility on the health side, education and other projects,” he said.