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The Boards of Directors of Helsinki Area Cooperative Bank, Itä-Uudenmaan Osuuspankki and Uudenmaan Osuuspankki have begun discussions on a possible merger to form a single bank. Following the merger, the new OP cooperative bank would be a major operator both regionally and nationally: it would hold 10 per cent of Finland’s total home loan portfolio.

The new OP cooperative bank would have more than 600,000 customers, including 340,000 owner-customers. Its total balance sheet would be almost 20 billion euros and its customer business would be worth 32 billion euros. The bank’s capital base would be around 1.26 billion euros. It would also be a significant asset manager, with assets under management totalling 7 billion euros.

Rapid change in customer behaviour and the financial sector’s operating environment is the rationale for the merger. The new bank would be better able to offer extensive and uniform banking, non-life insurance, asset and wealth management, and real estate agency services for personal and corporate customers throughout Uusimaa.

“Providing excellent customer experience in Uusimaa, Finland’s largest growth area, is the key goal of the merger. The new bank would be in an excellent position to provide high-quality customer service at competitive prices for personal and SME customers,” says Harri Nummela, Chair of the Board of Helsinki Area Cooperative Bank and Executive Vice President, Banking, Private and SME Customers at OP Financial Group.

“All three banks already have a strong capital base and solid financial standing. But we are looking further ahead – we want to make this big strategic decision and invest in growth in Uusimaa,” affirms Pekka Hiidenheimo, Chair of the Board of Uudenmaan Osuuspankki.

The three banks’ Boards of Directors have been planning the change throughout the spring. The banks’ Representative Assemblies should be in a position to make the final merger decision in their autumn 2021 meetings. Based on the plan, the new bank would start operating by the end of 2022 and would have its registered office in Helsinki.

The banks’ 1,100 employees would transfer to the new bank under their current terms of employment.

“Through the merger, we would also be able to provide our employees with new opportunities, including a wider range of tasks, attractive career paths and development of their expertise. Our employees are highly committed to managing customer relationships successfully,” describes Markus Johansson, Chair of the Board of Itä-Uudenmaan Osuuspankki.

If realised, the merger will not lead to changes in the banks’ current customer relationships or service network.

Source: OP Financial Group

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