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Transcript: Shayne Elliott with Neil Breen – 4BC Drive

Neil Breen: Massive news today and it’s got all of you talking, because Queensland loves its institutions, the things that we really believe are ours, and Suncorp Bank is one of those things. ANZ Bank has this merger proposal, it’s been accepted by both parties to buy Suncorp Bank for about $4.9b as part of a 12-month takeover, it’s expected that it will occur by the end of next year. Analysts are saying it’s great for ANZ, whilst they’re one of the big four banks, in Queensland they don’t have as much market share as the others. What ANZ wants to buy is the banking arm of Suncorp, not the insurance arm. They’ll take on $47b in home loan profiles, $45b in deposits and $11b in commercial loans. We know that the regulators have to have a look at it, Cameron Dick is talking tough and the Treasurer, but let’s go straight to the CEO of ANZ Bank, Shayne Elliott to talk about this merger or this acquisition. Shayne Elliott, how are you?

Shayne Elliott: I'm really good. Big day for us.


Neil Breen: Yeah, it is a really big day. So just to clarify everything because the listeners are asking lots of questions. Firstly, it's just for the banking arm?


Shayne Elliott: That's correct.


Neil Breen: And secondly, you will guarantee no branch closures and no headcount reduction in Queensland at the bank for the next three years?


Shayne Elliott: Well, that's after we acquire the bank. So probably later next year we'll get the ownership of the bank, and from that point, we're saying, we're buying this to invest in the business, to grow into Queensland and therefore we want Suncorp Bank customers to have the same great service they have today. That's why we're committing to the same network, same team for at least three years.


Neil Breen: Because a lot of people are sceptical, a lot of people think you'll just end up putting them in with all the ANZ customers and all that sort of stuff and they've got questions to ask. So ongoing will it be called Suncorp Bank or will all the branches and everyone's accounts be put into the ANZ Bank?


Shayne Elliott: So again, once we get to ownership, which is probably a year away, for at least five years and maybe seven, it'll be called Suncorp Bank. Nothing will change, the colours, the services, the people all that sort of stuff and the branches will stay exactly the same. Over that time, between now and then, we'll work it out. We'll talk to our customers and see what's in their best interest. Now, we can't keep the Suncorp Bank name forever, Suncorp needs that, that's their name. But we may be able to have a different name, maybe it's called Sun Bank or something else, I don't know. Or, maybe it's called ANZ, we don't know. We've got the options. What we're going to do is use that time to talk to the customers to see what's in their best interest, and what they want and what is the best way of servicing them. The important thing here is we are acquiring this business because it's a great business and we want it to grow and do well. So, we care about those customers and what they say.


Neil Breen: What do you think about the regulators? Obviously, you'll be hopeful, you've got agreements from both parties, Suncorp is accepting of this. What will the regulators be wanting from you before they say, yes, this is a goer?


Shayne Elliott: Well, they're going to put us through a rigorous process, as they should, that's their job, to make sure that we can show and give evidence that this is in the best interest of consumers, and this is in the best interests of Queensland. Now that onus is on us, we think we've got a good case we think we can show that this combination will be better for competition, will be better for consumers, will be better for Queensland. But we have to go through the process, and you know, we'll put our best foot forward. What I do know is that we'll get a fair hearing. I expect that we will get a very rigorous process both from the state and from the various regulators, and that's their job. And we're up for that because we think we've got a great case to make in why we can make this better for Queensland and better for Queenslanders.


Neil Breen: My guest is the CEO of ANZ Bank, Shayne Elliott. The Queensland Government was talking quite tough today, we heard the Treasurer of Queensland saying that he wants even more, he wants a tough deal and a good deal for Queensland. Have you had any discussions with the Government at this stage?


Shayne Elliott: We've had very early discussions over the weekend just as this deal eventuated, purely out of respect, just to talk to them. But obviously, it's very, very early days. We will start that dialogue now that we've got this announcement. We'll do that with our partners at Suncorp, and as I said, I'm sure we'll get a rigorous process and we're up for that because we think we've got a great story and we're looking forward to making our case over time.


Neil Breen: One of the suspicions will be - because Suncorp branches have been closing, we've got multiple pieces of evidence about that right across south-east Queensland - one of the suspicions will be that they'll just dump branches over the next 12 months before the sale is final.


Shayne Elliott: To be honest, I don't get any influence on that. I mean, we've announced this agreement but, as of now we don't own Suncorp Bank, that's a matter for Suncorp Group. But just remember why we're doing this. We want to own this franchise; we want to care for these customers. There are 1.2 million customers of Suncorp Bank today, 700,000 of whom live in Queensland. We want every single one of them to stay. So, Suncorp Bank will also be mindful of looking after that franchise and that business so that when we get to the completion, they hand over to us a very high-quality bank that we can invest in and then grow.


Neil Breen: Yeah, that's right. Because Shayne Elliott, banks are there to help us and to make money as well. Like 4BC is here to make money, we're all in things to make money. You're not buying something to kill it?


Shayne Elliott: No, exactly, that would be pretty foolish. We've got a good experience, and many of your listeners may not be aware, but a long time ago we bought a bank in New Zealand called the National Bank and again, it was a great customer franchise. And we showed that through many years of investment in that and frankly, over that period, we haven't lost those customers because we were able to convince them that we can continue the service them, not just as they used to be, but in a better way. And that's what we've got to do. It won't be easy, you guys have high standards like all customers, and competition is pretty fierce. But we're going to put our best foot forward and we're going to invest behind this investment. Because the other part of the announcement today wasn't just about this, there were also some commitments in there about funding growth in Queensland beyond Suncorp Bank. So, we've made commitments of billions of dollars we want to put into infrastructure around energy transition, around the sustainable future and around the green sustainable Olympics that the state has for the future, and we want to be part of those things as well.


Neil Breen: Most Queenslanders will want to know what the stadium is going to be called.


Shayne Elliott: My team advised me that was going to be the number one question. That, I think, is staying with Suncorp group. I don't think there's any change there. But I am wearing a maroon tie today just to assure people.


Neil Breen: Shayne Elliott, CEO of ANZ, thanks so much for your time on what must be a very busy day for you.


Shayne Elliott: Very, very busy. A big, historic day and obviously lots of excitement here at the group. Thanks for your time.


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