Big Sky members to vote on joining Australian Unity Group

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Members of Big Sky Credit Union will vote on the proposal to join a wholly-owned subsidiary of Australian Unity Limited, at a meeting to be held on 23 February 2012 in Melbourne.

Members of Big Sky Credit Union will vote on the proposal to join a wholly-owned subsidiary of Australian Unity Limited, at a meeting to be held on 23 February 2012 in Melbourne. All Big Sky members have been sent a Member Information Statement and Notice of Meeting.

If the proposal, which has the unanimous support of the directors of Big Sky, goes ahead, Big Sky’s business will transfer to Lifeplan Australia Building Society, which is part of the Australian Unity Group, and would have around 34,000 customers and approximately $650 million in gross assets. The proposal is for the business to be renamed Big Sky Building Society.

Both Big Sky and Australian Unity are mutual companies that operate on behalf of their members rather than shareholders. As part of the proposal, Big Sky members would exchange their Big Sky membership for Australian Unity membership.

A minimum of 75 percent of Big Sky members who vote (either in person or via proxy) must vote in favour of the proposal for it to be approved. A number of information meetings have been held for Big Sky members throughout Australia to explain details of the proposal and answer questions raised by members.

Mr Tony Ryan, chief executive officer of Big Sky, believes Big Sky will become a stronger organisation as part of the Australian Unity Group and provide more benefits to its members.

“The new combined business would be able to offer our members improved deposit and loan interest rates; better transaction packages; new products and services including an online mortgage product; and an expanded service centre network.  Members would immediately have access to an Adelaide service centre and we would seek to establish further centres in Western Australia, South Australia, Queensland and Victoria over time.

“At the information sessions we held for members, a common query raised was about maintaining our level of service if the integration takes place.  We were able to reassure members of our commitment to member services and ongoing commitment to the principles of customer-owned banking.

“While we have considered other strategic options for Big Sky, we believe that operating under the Australian Unity Group is the best strategy for creating an even stronger, customer-owned organisation,” he said.

Under the terms of the proposal, Big Sky members would retain all existing product benefits and become part of an organisation with a broader range of products and services.  It is intended that the products and services currently offered by Big Sky will be continued by the combined entity.

Mr Rohan Mead, group managing director of Australian Unity, said the integration would bring together two like-minded mutual organisations with a focus on member services.

“We believe that there is an opportunity to expand our range of financial services with quality banking services and will be committed to achieving this,” Mr Mead said.

About Big Sky

Big Sky is a credit union that is regulated under the same rigorous legislation as all financial institutions and is run on cooperative principles for the benefit of its members.  Profits are used to benefit members in many forms including lower interest rates on loans, a low cost fee structure, higher rates on deposits and personalised service.

Big Sky has more than 30,000 members and $560 million in gross assets. 

About Australian Unity

Australian Unity is a national healthcare, financial services and retirement living organisation providing services to more than 560,000 Australians, currently including some 285,000 members nationwide, 10,000 of whom have been members for more than 50 years.

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 25 January 2012