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By Fili Sagapolutele

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (March 1, 2001 PIDP/CPIS)---The acquisition of Amerika Samoa Bank (ASB) by the Australia New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ Bank) is tentatively schedule to be completed by the end of March.

"We are getting close to finalizing the sale," said ASB Board Chairman Morris Scanlan.

The Federal Insurance Depository Corporation (FDIC) and the U.S. Federal Reserve approved the merger last year.

ASB President Brant Judy said preliminary approval has already been granted by the U.S. Security Exchange Commission (SEC).

A special shareholders meeting will be held March 30 to finalize the merger.

ASB completed its buy-back of 45,000 shares in early January.

The shareholders were given until December 29 for ASG to buy back the shares for $39 per share.

Reportedly, 218 shareholders took part in the buy-back, which cost about $1.8 million.

The largest number of shares – worth $100,000 – was bought by an off-island individual.

The individuals who participated in the buy-back were also given a chance to deposit their money back into ASB for a 6 percent interest for 12 months instead of the regular 4.5 percent interest.

The shareholders who did not accept the buy-back offer will become stockholders in the new company.

Bob De Courtney is heading up the ANZ team during the transition period.

The team has been here since the announcement of the merger was first made.

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