October 30, 2018 / 2:05 AM / 19 days ago

Japan's Eighteenth Bank, Shinwa Bank to postpone merger by six months

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan’s Shinwa Bank and Eighteenth Bank Ltd have decided to postpone their planned merger by six months, saying they wanted to bring the dates of their merger and systems integration closer together to avoid complications for customers.

The announcement was made on Tuesday by Eighteenth Bank and Shinwa Bank’s parent Fukuoka Financial Group.

Eighteenth Bank and Shinwa Bank got approval in August from Japanese authorities to merge after a lengthy review that had sparked a battle between the antitrust watchdog and financial regulators.

Shinwa Bank and Eighteenth Bank - both based on the southern island of Kyushu - said at the time their merger was expected to be completed in April 2020.

The banks have now rescheduled the merger for October 2020, three months before the planned date for their systems integration.

“We wanted to minimize the period in which customers would be using two different systems as much as possible,” said an official at Fukuoka Financial, which will buy Eighteenth Bank and merge it with Shinwa.

The postponement was earlier reported by the Nikkei business daily, which attributed the delay to preparation for a change in the local calendar with the abdication of the emperor next year.

The Nikkei said the banks decided to postpone the merger by six months to avoid potential system troubles with the added workload of making necessary changes to the system with the change of the imperial era in May next year.

Emperor Akihito is due to abdicate on April 30, 2019.

The Fukuoka Financial Group official said the change of the local calendar was part of the reason.

Reporting by Taiga Uranaka and Junko Fujita; Editing by Chang-Ran Kim and Gopakumar Warrier

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