BRISBANE, MELBOURNE and SYDNEY Australia – The Australian credit union world was startled by the announcement that the country’s two largest credit unions will merge if their respective members approve at their annual general meetings scheduled for November 24th and 25th. If approved, Credit Union Australia (CUA) would absorb the Australian National Credit Union (ANCU). The goal is to have 25% of Australia’s credit union market. The resulting organization would have 75 branches, 400,000 members, 800 staff and AUS$5 (US$3.75) billion in assets. Founded in 1949 under the name Endeavor, ANCU has brought 14 credit unions under its umbrella and has also made deep commitments to the aborigines by operating First Nations Credit Union. Rob Nicholls who has been ANCU’s CEO for the past 11 years oversaw much of the growth while being an active participant in national and international credit union activities. ANCU operates in the Sydney, New South Wales and Melbourne markets. CUA was founded in 1966 and served the postal and public service area. CUA has a strong presence in Brisbane but lacked brand awareness in Sydney and Melbourne despite having branches in both areas. CUA’s Managing Director Peter Graham Olrich joined CUA in 1992 as general manager, operations and became their CEO in December 1994 He became the Board’s Managing Director in July 2001. The merger has been under discussion for the past 18 months. Nicholls said, “Graham and I were both looking for ways to increase brand awareness, while continuing to build value for our members in our respective markets, and realized there could be significant benefits gained by merging.” Besides the advantages of increased market penetration, Olrich and Nicholls project reduction in member fees of at least AUS$2 (US$2.39) million annually from economies brought about by the merger. They wish to open at least 10 branches making access easier for their members. “The boards of both credit unions want to ensure our members continue to have access to a credit union that has the financial strength and profitability to meet their future financial needs in the highly competitive financial services market,” said Olrich. Staff reductions are expected more by attrition than lay offs. Although the credit union will operate under the CUA name, the merged organization will continue with ANCU’s positioning statement of “Australia’s Friendliest Banking”. If approved, the merged credit union will officially begin operations on January 1, 2006. [email protected]

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