Kina Bank buys Westpac’s Pacific assets in billion kina deal

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Kina Bank has consolidated its position as Papua New Guinea’s second largest bank, and also taken a first step towards becoming a regional bank, by acquiring the assets of Westpac in Papua New Guinea and Fiji.

Kina Haus in downtown Port Moresby Credit: Kina Bank

The acquisition, which has been the subject of speculation since Westpac parked its Pacific assets into a specialist business unit in May this year, was confirmed this morning.

‘The acquisition of Westpac’s Pacific Businesses enables our organisation to achieve scale and enhances our regional footprint, at the same time leveraging the benefits and optionality that come from being a larger group,’ said Kina’s CEO and Managing Director Greg Pawson, a former General Manager of Westpac Pacific.

Kina Bank’s Greg Pawson

‘The Westpac Pacific Businesses are well known to the Kina Board and Management team and this will assist a seamless customer and employee experience. We are very excited about this opportunity to create a stronger and more effective banking competitor for PNG and Fiji.

‘The acquisition is perfectly aligned with our current strategy to be a dynamic and innovative full service regional bank with a market leading digital platform.’

Billion dollar deal

The transaction, which will involve Kina Bank (or more specifically its legal entity, Kina Securities) acquiring 89.91 per cent of Westpac’s PNG business and 100 per cent of its Fiji business, is expected to be complete by 30 September 2021. It is subject to regulatory approval in both PNG and Fiji.

Business Advantage PNG understands PNG-based minority shareholders in Westpac PNG, principally Nambawan Super and Motor Vehicle Insurance Ltd, will retain their shareholdings.

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The purchase price includes staged payments and other instalments that are subject to ‘performance hurdles’ being met. The amount is expected to be in the vicinity of K1.036 billion (AUD$420 million).

According to Kina’s statement to the ASX and PNGX today, this price ‘equates to 0.79 times book value of the Pacific Businesses of Westpac as at 30 June 2020’.

Westpac says it is expecting an ‘accounting loss on sale of approximately A$230 million (K600 million)’.

Major growth

In a statement, Kina Bank says the move will transform it from a leading digital bank in PNG to becoming an ‘at scale regional bank’.

‘The existing Westpac technology hub in Fiji will assist Kina to remain at the forefront of digital banking in PNG (and now, the region) and to leverage the subsequent scale to reduce the cost to income ratio of the group.’

The acquisition will certainly greatly increase Kina’s size, increasing its PNG customer base from 165,000 to 523,255 and adding a further 318,968 customers in Fiji. Its loan book will also increase by 275 per cent to K5.34 billion and its deposits by 218 per cent to K8.03 billion.

‘With an expanded footprint, enhanced ICT and digital optionality,’ the acquisition will ‘provide for a more efficient operating model and act as a platform to support future growth,’ according to the Kina statement.

It will also allow the bank to compete more effectively with its main competitor, Bank South Pacific, which is not only PNG’s largest bank but also a major player in Fiji and several other Pacific territories.

Strategic

The acquisition is being financed from Kina’s existing cash reserves, cashflow from its ongoing operations and ‘investment from strategic investors including multilateral development banks.’

The move also represents the latest step in what has been a steady withdrawal from the Pacific by international banks. While it retains a significant institutional  banking operation in PNG, ANZ completed the sale of its retail operations in PNG to Kina Bank in 2019. In 2015, Westpac sold its Pacific operations outside of PNG and Fiji to Bank South Pacific, the same year Malaysia’s Maybank sold out its PNG operation to Kina Bank.

For Westpac, the sale marks the end of its 110-year history in PNG. The then-Bank of New South Wales opened its first branch in Douglas Street, Port Moresby in 1910.

Commenting on the sale of its Pacific assets, Westpac Group Chief Executive, Specialist Businesses, Jason Yetton said:

‘Westpac Group has made the strategic decision to focus on consumer, business and institutional banking in Australia and New Zealand. The sale is another step in the Group becoming a simpler, stronger bank while ensuring that a high standard of banking services is maintained for our Pacific customers.

‘Choosing the right purchaser for our businesses is important to us, our people, and the communities we have proudly served for more than 100 years. Kina is a strong brand in the region and is well positioned with deep local knowledge to continue to help our consumer and business customers succeed.’

Comments

  1. Willie Bemabua says

    Despite PNG’s economic boom led by extractive industries, almost 40 percent of the country’s population lives in property.The Government has not taken sufficient steps to address gender inequality, violence, corruption, or excessive use of force by Police.

  2. P..N Zuks says

    Great for business when there’s competition and the end beneficiary will of course be the consumer.

  3. Douglas Joe Siuta says

    This is incredibly interesting and helpful for kina bank clients in centres that doesn’t have kina bank

  4. Pauline Meinik says

    At least we the kina customers in West Sepik Province can now access the services. Reading this news with tears rolling down my eyes. For ten years of service as a Radiographer with the West Sepik Provincial Health Authority, I normally go to Wewak and access the services there. Very costly exercise by air back and forth,but now I am rejoicing.

  5. What s breath of fresh air for PNG. Prime Minister.Marape Should have been their years ago.
    Look what Bainimarama has done for FIJI. and Australian Government said they would reduce him to his knees.. Keep up the good work MIniister Marape

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