The Papua New Guinea-based bank’s chief executive Robin Fleming was on Rarotonga yesterday to meet with Westpac staff and government officials. The meeting followed the sale last week of Westpac’s banking operations in the Cook Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Tonga to the Bank of South Pacific (BSP) for $125 million.
Completion of the sale was expected to happen in mid-2015 and was subject to the parties obtaining necessary statutory, regulatory and third party approvals, said Fleming.
He wanted to reassure Westpac Cook Islands customers that employees’ jobs would be safe and that most operations would stay exactly the same as they had been under Westpac.
“That was all part of the transitional agreement we made,” he said.
“All Westpac Cook Island employees will stay, apart from those who have been seconded to the Cook Islands by Westpac.”
Asked about international money transfers, Fleming said BSP would maintain the same fees as Westpac and would not increase them.
“We want to preserve the same customer basis and make the transition as seamless as possible.”
BSP also issues Visa debit cards as well as Silver Gold and Platinum cards and a range of other products and services that Westpac customers would be used to, he said.
Questions about the volatility of PNG’s economic and political situation were dismissed by Fleming, who said the bank was financially stable and was also listed on the Port Moresby stock exchange.
Minister of Finance Mark Brown met with Fleming yesterday and said BSP needed to assure Westpac customers it would continue the same services.
“I am not concerned about the sale at this stage,” he said.