SBS Bank may merge with HBS Building Society if a proposal by the board of the Hawke’s Bay-based mutual is approved.

Ross Smith, chief executive at SBS Bank, said: “We are particularly excited about a merger with a fellow mutual building society of over 100 years standing with identical principles and values. Our members can be assured that this merger will further strengthen SBS Bank’s position in the market. As New Zealand’s only customer owned bank, the best interests of our members have always remained our number one priority.

“In terms of day-to-day operations nothing will change for existing SBS Bank members except the ability to conduct their banking at more North Island branches around the country. At the same time, the merger will allow us to take a further step toward being a fully national, mutually-owned community bank.”