In a statement to CINews, Westpac Pacific regional general manager (Pacific Island Nations) Brett Hooker said an agreement had been signed by both Westpac and Bank South Pacific (BSP). However, the sale was still subject to necessary statutory, regulatory and third party approvals.
“There are dedicated Westpac and BSP teams working closely with all relevant regulators to ensure a successful and smooth sale with an anticipated completion by mid-2015.”
Before the sale went through, Westpac would continue to own and manage banking operations in these countries and would continue to meet its customers’ banking needs, said Hooker.
Customers with Westpac Visa debit cards attached to their Cook Islands bank accounts could transfer funds to and from Australia and New Zealand, and this service would continue under the new owners, he said.
BSP recognised that there were a select set of banking activities that required additional support, and Westpac would provide a small number of services during a transition period in order to ensure a seamless transition for customers and local communities.
The bank understood that all customer accounts, debit cards and EFTPOS facilities would continue under BSP as they did at present he said.
However, it seems there will be no additional benefits for Westpac Cook Islands customers when the Papua New Guinea-based BSP takes over.
Before and after the sale the same features and services available to customers would continue, Hooker said. These included the use of branches, online banking, products, accounts and card services.
“BSP have indicated they have no plans to make changes to current products and services apart from rebranding or re-titling.”
Westpac Cook Islands ATM and EFTPOS terminals would also be changed to BSP rather than being replaced, he said.
“Westpac aims to ensure that all ATMs and EFTPOS terminals are functional and aims to respond swiftly to any technical issues. Customers are encouraged to let us know if they are experiencing any difficulties.”
In February, Westpac Banking Corp announced it had agreed to sell its banking operations in five Pacific Island nations to BSP for $125 million to concentrate on its largest markets, Fiji and Papua New Guinea.
Westpac said the sale of the businesses in the Cook Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Tonga should be completed by the middle of this year.