15 Jul 2008

Tonga sells Westpac stake

10:06 am on 15 July 2008

The Tonga Government has sold its 40 per cent shareholding in Tonga's oldest bank, the Westpac Bank of Tonga, giving full ownership to the Westpac Banking Corporation.

A statement from Westpac says that the Government of Tonga agreed to the sale after deciding to sell its equity in Westpac Bank of Tonga as part of a broader divestiture program.

The Matangi Tonga online website reports The Minister for Finance, Afu'alo Matoto, says the Government acknowledges the banking industry has reached maturity and therefore active participation in one bank is no longer required.

He says it is important that Government investment be divested to provide a level playing field for the industry.

The Government acknowledges and appreciates the contribution that Westpac has been providing over the years to the banking industry in Tonga and the overall development of the country.

Westpac's General Manager Pacific Banking, Jane Kittel, says Westpac is pleased to increase its investment in Tonga by acquiring the Government's 40 per cent share at a fair market price.

She says Westpac remains committed to playing an important role in the continued recovery of the Tonga economy and in rebuilding investor and business confidence in the Kingdom.