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Proposed South Island bank merger gets project manager

Friday 2nd July 2010

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James Mitchell has been appointed project manager to lead an evaluation of the proposed merger between Canterbury Building Society, Southern Cross Building Society and Pyne Gould Corp.

The three long-established financial services businesses, including PGC subsidiary Marac, signed a memorandum of understanding on June 1, where initial due diligence has confirmed the merger’s potential said PGC chairman, Bruce Irvine.

Mitchell has more than 20 years banking experience, most recently with ASB where he was chief executive relationship banking. He will report to a provisional project board which is overseeing the merger evaluation process. The board includes Irvine, PGC managing director Jeff Greenslade, CBS chairman Gary Leech and SCBS chairman Geoff Ricketts.

“James’ experience and understanding of the banking environment make him a perfect candidate to project manage the merger evaluation process,” said Irvine.

“He has the proven ability to lead people through large and complex change.”

Mitchell will initially be responsible for overseeing the evaluation work streams, preparation of a merger implementation agreement and seeking of necessary approvals. Subject to obtaining the approvals, he will project manage the integration of the three businesses, while reporting directly to project director, Jeff Greenslade.

The respective boards of the three businesses are yet to formally endorse the proposed merger, which still needs to be put to shareholders for approval.

A merger would create a lender with $2.2 billion of assets and accomplish Marac’s goal of becoming a registered bank. Marac’s aspiration took a knock last year when its credit rating was downgraded to BB+, below the Reserve Bank’s minimum investment grade rating requirement.

Shares in PGC and CDB were unchanged in trading today at 38 cents and $2.80 respectively.

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