Former ASB Bank executive James Mitchell has been appointed project manager of Pyne Gould Corporation, Canterbury Building Society and Southern Cross Building Society's plans to merge banking and finance interests to create a "Heartland Bank."He will report to project director and PGC managing director Jeff Greenslade.
The three groups said Mitchell, previously ASB's chief executive of relationship banking and general manager of BankDirect, follows the establishment of a provisional project board to oversee the merger evaluation process. The board includes PGC chairman Bruce Irvine, PGC managing director Jeff Greenslade, CBS chairman Gary Leech and SCBS chairman Geoff Ricketts.
PGC announced early in June plans to merge its finance company Marac with the two building societies, enabling them to create greater scale and tap a bigger retail deposit funding base as they seek an investment grade credit rating and bank licence from the Reserve Bank.
The plans envisage a NZX-listed "Heartland Bank" headquartered in Christchurch that would aim to double its NZ$2.2 billion asset base within five years through growing family, small business and agricultural lending. The proposal calls for CBS and SCBS to be amalgamated and then acquire Marac. PGC would be the cornerstone shareholder. The group would have 360 staff and 70 customer outlets.
Mitchell, who has more than 20 years banking experience, has also worked for ANZ in a series of roles including around electronic banking and new business development.
Irvine said Mitchell would project manage the merger evaluation process. He had "proven ability" to lead people through large and complex change.
“He will be initially responsible for overseeing the various work streams required to complete the evaluation, prepare a Merger Implementation Agreement and seek necessary approvals," said Irvine.
Subject to obtaining these approvals, Mitchell will manage the integration of the three businesses, reporting to project director Greenslade.
Irvine noted the respective boards of CBS, SCBS and PGC had not yet formally endorsed the proposed merger and that the plan needed to be put to their shareholders for approval.
"However, the due diligence and detailed evaluation processes were under way and preliminary indications confirmed both the potential within the combined client base and a complimentary product capability," said Irvine.
"Once the due diligence and detailed evaluation processes are completed the proposal would be subject to various approval processes including those involving respective boards and shareholders."