Kina Calls Off Westpac Deal
by PNG Business News - September 24, 2021
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Photo credit: Kina Bank
Kina Securities (KSL) has called off its deal to buy Westpac's Pacific division.
Kina and Westpac Banking Corporation have mutually decided to terminate their purchase of Westpac Fiji and Westpac's 89.91 per cent interest in Westpac Bank PNG, which was intended to broaden Kina's market reach.
The transaction was subject to numerous regulatory clearances, and the cancellation comes after Papua New Guinea's regulator, the Independent Consumer and Competition Commission, denied Kina's proposed acquisition of Westpac PNG.
The authority body stated that it was unconvinced that the acquisition would not significantly reduce competition or benefit the public. The verdict was made only two months after a preliminary determination reached the same outcome.
Kina anticipates its full-year 2021 earnings to be in line with the Company's full-year 2020 results, after accounting for transaction expenses and projected revenue from the acquisition that is no longer expected.
Kina’s Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Greg Pawson said about the termination, “Whilst we are disappointed that the acquisition has not proceeded, this in no way changes the Company’s strategy of seeking both organic and inorganic growth in PNG and the Pacific region. The outlook of the company remains positive.”
Reference: Loop (22 September 2021). “Kina Securities Terminates Agreement”.
PNG Business News - August 23, 2021
Discussions Continue On Purchase of Westpac
Photo Credit: PNG Buzz Should the deal be authorized by the ICCC, Kina Securities Limited's position on purchasing Westpac PNG remains on the table, with a discussion of more competition in the banking market. The bank recently met with the Independent Consumer and Competition Commission to explain its acquisition plan for Westpac PNG. Greg Pawson, the company's CEO, pledged a K25 million investment in technology and digital innovation, as well as a 50 per cent expansion of Westpac PNG's branch and in-store network in the first three years following the purchase, and the creation of a pan-Pacific bank based in PNG. “We will expand the distribution footprint of banking services across PNG to reach more Papua New Guineans,” said Pawson. “We will retain the existing Westpac corporate structure, banking licence, operations and technology – and simply rebrand as East-West Commercial Bank. “This exciting new bank brand will also be used for Westpac Fiji and positioned as PNG’s international bank brand.” According to him, East-West Commercial Bank will compete directly with Kina Bank under this multi-brand approach, which is popular in many countries and will provide clients with a full range of competitive, innovative financial services. “Expanding the distribution footprint will ensure more competition in locations across PNG which are currently only served by one bank or not at all. “It’s a huge commitment to reinvigorate financial inclusion,” said Pawson. Kina also sees the possibility of obtaining banking licenses in Australia and Singapore in the longer term, which would increase PNG's access and reach in the area. Pawson proposed seven important and substantial public benefits to enhance competition, improve access, and create more jobs for Papua New Guineans in his speech. “Kina will prevent job losses and retain all existing Kina Bank and Westpac employees. “We will create 50 new PNG based jobs within the first 12 months following the acquisition,” he said. “All of Westpac PNG’s existing senior management and executive positions will be nationalised and given to PNG local talent, including the country head position.” Kina Bank's purpose, according to Kina Securities chairman Isikeli Taureka, is to continually increase the prosperity of the people, communities, and markets it serves. “We strongly believe that this transaction should be approved by the ICCC,” he said. Taureka also took the opportunity to address head-on the contention by the ICCC that the acquisition would lead to tacit collusion and reduce competition: “While the concepts of a duopoly and tacit collusion will be addressed in detail in our final economic and legal submissions, the significant disparity in market positions between Bank South Pacific and Kina indicate that such a result is impossible. “This transaction is in the best interests of the people of PNG, and the banking and financial services industry more broadly. “The significant public benefits to PNG will be entrenched in the binding commitments by Kina Securities Limited, and enable increased competition with the current dominant force,” Taureka said. Reference: Post-Courier (17 August 2021). “Kina Adamant On Westpac Takeover”.
PNG Business News - September 20, 2021
ICCC Denies Kina’s Purchase
Kina Securities Ltd's attempt to purchase Westpac PNG Ltd was denied by the Independent Consumer and Competition Commission (ICCC) (Westpac). After going through the ICCC Act's procedures, ICCC commissioner and chief executive officer Paulus Ain verified this. On March 17, Kina Securities submitted an application to purchase 89.91 per cent of Westpac. “The outcomes and the findings were based on financial information provided and gathered by the ICCC,” he said. “The ICCC has now made the final determination to decline the authorisation sought by Kina Bank.” Despite Kina Securities' proposal to run Westpac as a distinct bank, he said the ICCC was not convinced there would be two independent banks because of a similar ownership structure. Other justifications include: Markets are now extremely concentrated and will continue to be so as long as there are few participants in the market. With the transaction, the number of commercial banks will be decreased to two. The planned purchase would raise the hurdles to entrance and expansion even higher, since the number of banks would be decreased, giving the two current incumbents more market dominance. “The ICCC is concerned that the proposed acquisition is likely to result in prices and profit margins increase,” he said. “Although Westpac has decided to divest its PNG business, it appeared that this would not immediately happen without the proposed acquisition proceeding. “Hence the ICCC considered that Westpac PNG would not be a significant source of competition for at least several years.” Kina Securities and Westpac were contacted for comment but did not respond. Reference: Mauludu, Shirley. The National (14 September 2021). “ICCC Rejects Kina’s Bid”.
PNG Business News - March 29, 2021
ICCC Evaluating Kina Banks Acquisition of Westpac
Kina Securities Ltd (KSL) has sent an application to the Independent Consumer Competition Commission (ICCC) for approval of its proposed acquisition of Westpac's Pacific company. Through the authorisation process, ICCC will determine the acquisition's competition consequences and public gains, according to Commissioner and Chief Executive Officer Paulus Ain. This will be achieved by a public review process in which the ICCC will accept comments from stakeholders and the general public before reaching a definitive judgment about whether or not to approve the acquisition under the ICCC Act. “The process that ICCC will conduct is very transparent and it is very important for the people of this country, especially from the finance and banking sector, to get themselves involved,” Ain said. “The process has now started and we are formally inviting the people in the finance and banking sector, other commentators, interested parties and the public to the process on assessment. We are looking forward to seeing a lot of submissions come in and this process starts effectively today (Friday).” KSL is awaiting ICCC approval to purchase 89.91 per cent of Westpac PNG Ltd. The proposed acquisition has reached the threshold needed under section 81 of the ICCC Act for mandatory notification and obtaining ICCC approval to continue with the acquisition, according to the ICCC. The authorisation process, according to Ain, has no bearing on the ICCC's decision on who buys. “This is something that ICCC does not or is not required by law to do this,” he said. “It’s outside of the ICCC’s role.”
PNG Business News - January 17, 2022
Access to Quality Credit - Employers Benefit When Staff Benefit
Photo credit: Savi Moni Access to affordable credit is highly valued but not readily available in Papua New Guinea. In an extremely competitive employment marketplace, businesses are increasingly assisting employees to access credit as a means to both attract and retain their top talent. Even in the current economic downturn, there is still a ‘war on talent’ when it comes to PNG’s ‘best and brightest’. This is only set to intensify in 2022 with the Government having effectively given the ‘green light’ to both the PNG LNG expansion (i.e., P’nyang) and the reopening of the Porgera gold mine. Furthermore, despite the slow progression of the much anticipated Wafi-Golpu gold mining project, it will only be a matter of time before it too will require the skillsets of thousands of new employees. A recent Salary Finance survey of US workers found that access to affordable credit is one of the most desired benefits not currently being offered by employers. Human Resource professionals agree, that in combination with competitive salaries, providing staff with access to affordable credit is another way to reduce the likelihood of valued employees ‘jumping ship’. It also helps position a business as an ‘employer of choice’ when it comes to recruitment. Significantly, a key finding from PwC's 2021 Employee Financial Wellness Survey, found that, 72 percent of workers who reported facing increased financial setbacks during the pandemic said they would be more attracted to another company that cared more about financial well-being than their current employer. Savi Moni, an online personal loan service designed specifically for PNG’s corporate sector was launched in 2020. Founder and Director Nick Keane has heard firsthand from several business leaders the concerns they have of losing key staff, as well as the administrative and cost burdens of managing employee credit programs in-house. Having lived and worked in PNG for over 25 years, Keane understands the stress and hardship that a lack of access to affordable credit results in – especially when people resort to lending from unethical pay day street lenders (i.e., ‘loan sharks’). “I’ve seen far too many people – even highly-educated people in good jobs – end up in a cycle of debt that they can’t escape. Typically, these people find themselves with a mix of formal and informal (street lender) loans on high interest rates that they cannot afford. It is a really sad and really desperate situation for a lot of hard working and honest people.” Keane started Savi Moni so that he could help the corporate sector help its employees. “As someone with other business interests in PNG and someone who has managed large PNG workforces, I knew that internally managed employee credit programs are really time consuming, prone to creating workplace issues and not a good use of company capital. As such, we designed our lending product to be simple and streamlined so that there would be an absolutely minimal administrative burden for businesses. We also wanted to introduce the concept of ‘responsible lending’ to the market – that is, by carrying out in-depth assessments to ensure we don’t over lend to our customers. We want them to be able to comfortably manage their repayments, whilst having enough money for life’s essentials left in each pay packet.” Central to the Savi Moni product is the recognition that employee financial wellness is not a ‘warm and fuzzy’ or ‘feel good’ employee program. Financial wellness programs are now a ‘need-to-have’ employee benefit. As such, Savi Moni provides not only a range of free financial literacy tools, tips, resources and courses on its website, but it has partnered with Australian Business Volunteers (ABV) to deliver a PNG bespoke ‘Family Money Management’ two-day course for its loan partner companies. The training is delivered at cost. Solar Solutions, an early adopter of Savi Moni’s loan offering delivered ABV’s Family Money Management course to its Port Moresby staff. Savi Moni’s Pukari Peni, who attended the training session with them reported that “The feedback was great. All of the staff that participated said they greatly benefited from the training.” Port Moresby based Avenell Engineering Systems (AES), has been impressed with the flexibility of setting their own loan parameters. Knowing full well, the negative affects to their business of staff suffering from high levels of financial stress, AES wanted to implement their own lending rules. “Savi Moni really do have a ‘responsible lender approach’, with tight lending guidelines, yet we wanted to ensure even tighter rules for our staff. We set our own Debt to Income (DTI) Ratio and Savi Moni were able to implement this without a hassle.” AESHR Manager, Maria Jesusa Garcia. Savi Moni is a 100 percent online personal lending service with agents on the ground to assist if needed. It is delivered through a convenient and transparent digital platform that a business’ approved HR and Payroll staff log in to. In order for employees to benefit from a Savi Moni personal loan the employing business must first sign up as a Loan Partner, there is no risk for Loan Partners just benefits. Minimal time and effort are required from Loan Partner businesses and their employees to ensure a fast and simple employee credit program. Article courtesy of Savi Moni
PNG Business News - January 17, 2022
Geopacific Resources Appoints Andrew Bantock as Chairman
Photo credit: Geopacific Resources The Board of Geopacific Resources Limited is pleased to announce the appointment of Mr. Andrew Bantock as Chairman and director of Geopacific, and the retirement of Mr. Ian Clyne as Chairman and director of the Company. Mr. Bantock has significant experience leading listed and private businesses, both in Australia and offshore, with an acknowledged track record in corporate finance and commercial leadership. Throughout his career, Mr. Bantock has established a track record for successfully building and improving businesses’ operations and financial structures, developing and communicating their vision and strategy and building and leading high performing teams. Mr. Bantock will work with Geopacific’s Management, the Board and the Company’s consultants to assess the optimal operational model, development plan and funding requirements for the Woodlark Gold Project under the review announced to the market on 15 December 2021, as well as the long-term strategy for the Company. Geopacific Nomination and Remuneration Committee Chair, Mr. Ian Murray said: “Andrew brings a fresh perspective, relevant expertise and the ability to thoroughly assess the Company’s requirements and path forward. His proven leadership, financial and business improvement skills will be invaluable both for the Company’s short-term imperatives and the implementation of its long-term strategy. On behalf of the Board, I would like to thank Mr. Ian Clyne for his dedicated service as Chairman of Geopacific and the achievements during his tenure. We wish Ian all the best in his future endeavours. ” Mr. Bantock said: “It is an important time for Geopacific and I look forward to applying my experience and skills, with the support of the executive management and Board of Geopacific and its consultants, to assess, develop and implement the path forward for the Company. With A$50.9 million of unrestricted net cash reserves and no debt at 31 December 2021, the Company is positioned with a number of strategic options to grow shareholder value”. Background information regarding Mr. Bantock and key terms of appointment Mr. Bantock’s role will be as Non-Executive Chairman of Geopacific, however he has committed in the short-term to a greater involvement in the oversight of the review workstreams currently underway at the Company. Details of the material terms of the arrangements for the provision of Mr. Bantock’s services are set out in an appendix to this announcement. After qualifying as a Chartered Accountant with a leading global firm, working in Australia and the UK, Mr. Bantock commenced his commercial career with ASX/NZSE listed GRD Group, owner of New Zealand’s largest gold producer, Macraes Mining (later Oceana Gold), and well-known resource project design and construction engineer, GRD Minproc. Mr. Bantock later become Finance Director of GRD, also serving six years as a Non- Executive Director of Western Australia’s water utility, Water Corporation, where he chaired the Audit and Compliance Committee. Mr. Bantock subsequently helped to establish and co-lead an ASX listed exploration group, in various roles, including as founding Executive Chairman of Chalice Gold Mines Ltd and founding Managing Director of Liontown Resources Ltd, before being recruited back to a senior finance role, as CFO of Glencore’s Australian nickel business. Mr Bantock is currently a Senior Managing Director of FTI Consulting (FTI Consulting), an independent global business advisory firm where he leads the Perth Business Transformation practice and co-leads the national mining advisory practice, assisting clients to develop and implement business improvement and growth strategies, supported by detailed business case analysis, financing strategies and hands-on execution. Andrew is also Chairman of Elevate Uranium Limited (ASX: EL8). FTI Consulting is providing the services of Mr. Bantock as director and non-executive Chairman of Geopacific under a consultancy agreement. Separately, FTI Consulting has been engaged to assist the Company and work alongside the existing independent technical advisors appointed by the Company over the next three months (subject to any extension) to perform a detailed diagnostic review, make recommendations to the Board on the strategy for the Company and assist with the implementation of key action items, whether through the provision of advice or by providing senior management support and resources. This arrangement has been agreed on normal ‘arms length’ terms and includes appropriate conflict measures. Article courtesy of Geopacific Resources
PNG Business News - January 17, 2022
Panguna Mine Committee Conducts Successful Meeting
A positive first meeting of the Panguna Mine Legacy Impact Assessment Oversight Committee was held in Buka in 2021. Representatives from clan, landowner, and community organizations, as well as the Papua New Guinea government, Rio Tinto, Bougainville Copper Limited, and the Human Rights Law Centre, were hosted by the Autonomous Bougainville Government. The committee gathered to examine the next steps in analyzing the old Panguna mine's environmental and human rights implications. "This process is equally vital and necessary for all parties, the people of Bougainville, ABG and BCL," Geraldine Paul, representing the ABG, said in her opening remarks. She praised Rio Tinto and BCL for agreeing to collaborate with ABG and stated that "ABG has offered its full support for the Panguna Mine Impact Assessment to be carried out through the executive council." Furthermore, Hon. Geraldine Paul informed the committee that a political timeline for Bougainville's independence has been established, and that this process is timely in order to support the people of Bougainville's political ambitions. Rio Tinto’s representative on the Committee, General Manager for Closure Delivery, Mr. John Dumbill said, “Rio Tinto is sorry that we did not come forward earlier to understand the impacts from the mine. We are ready and willing to participate in this process with you. I hope that I can help to move this forward, and I am personally committed to making sure this process is fair and representative." The Honourable Theonila Roka Matbob of the ABG, who is also the spokesperson for the Panguna Complainants group and has recently won an international award for her efforts to seek justice for affected communities, thanked him for the apology and noted that Rio Tinto had been constructive in working through the complaint brought against them by communities through the Australian National Contact Point (AusNCP): “This meeting marks what we hope is the start of a new chapter for the communities impacted by the Panguna mine. Personally, it fills me with great hope to see all these stakeholders come together to discuss a way forward to find solutions to the huge problems our people are living with. We are looking forward to working with the Committee to ensure work on the ground can start as soon as possible," Hon. Theonila Matbob said. Following the meeting, the committee issued a statement through its Independent Chairman, Mr Martin Brash of the Tanorama Consulting Group, said “All parties at the meeting have committed to collaborating in a fair and effective process that helps address the concerns of affected communities. In this first meeting, the committee has established operating arrangements for the process and have also finalised and endorsed a procedure to go to market to find a professional firm to complete the technical impact assessment.” The committee also approved a motion from the ABG's Honorable Geraldine Paul to conduct the next meeting in Panguna in February of this year, when they will get a desktop report tracing available pertinent background information regarding the environment and population in Panguna. The committee and the impact assessment contractor, who will be nominated by the committee in April 2022, will benefit from this study. Reference: Autonomous Bougainville Government (12 January 2022). “Panguna Mine Legacy Impact Committee holds first meeting”