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South Australia welcomes a new bank

11 May 2000 |Media centre

South Australia today welcomed a new bank with the official opening by Premier John Olsen of Bendigo Bank's Adelaide branch headquarters in Frome Street.

Bendigo Bank is the architect of the rapidly-growing Community Bank movement.

Bendigo Bank Group Managing Director Rob Hunt said the bank was committed to opening new branches and growing jobs in the State.

"Ours is a long-term strategy - especially when we come into South Australia as a new and largely unknown player. It is difficult to establish one's credentials in a new market and we are therefore happy to be judged by what we do, rather than what we say here today.

"Three years ago we had no presence in South Australia. We took our first steps with the acquisition of the Italian community bank Cassa Commerciale and its Adelaide operation.

"Last year we grew our involvement through our Community Bank partnership with Virginia and our joint venture with your Elders company to create a new bank to deliver banking services to rural producers across Australia.

"Today we add a branch of Bendigo Bank and a state head office from which to base our growth. Hopefully in the next few months West Beach will add another Community Bank branch and in a year's time, perhaps we will have two or three more.

"It is a slow process, but over time our intention is to build our business steadily and to employ more South Australians as we do so.

"I thank the State Government and the people of South Australia for the encouragement they have given us to come and do business on this side of the border. We look forward to a long and mutually beneficial relationship."

Bendigo Bank developed Community Bank following widespread bank branch closures across Australia. In South Australia, 146 branches - or one-in-four - have closed since 1990.

The branch in Virginia has written nearly $12 million in banking business and Bendigo continues working with West Beach, Mt Gambier, Cummins, Minnipa and a number of other South Australian communities looking at Community Banking.

Mr Hunt said Bendigo was known as the architect of Community Bank, "but in effect we remain very much a community-based bank ourselves".

"Our company was formed on the Bendigo goldfield 142 years ago with the express intention of funding permanent dwellings in what until then was an impermanent gold rush town. By assisting Bendigo to grow into a thriving regional city, our business, too, thrived and had a solid base from which to grow.

"We have taken this 'community building' approach wherever we have gone and we believe it will be the key to our success in South Australia."

Bendigo Bank operates more than 100 branches and employs 1100 staff, the majority in regional areas. It is listed on the Australian Stock Exchange with 22,000 mainly small shareholders and has more than $5 billion under management.

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