According to ERB chief executive officer Paul Hutchin-son, the rural lender had a proven track record over the past six years and he did not expect merger negotiations to affect business.
³The compound effect of very solid asset and liability growth and profitability over a number of years means the bank¹s future is very strong,² Mr Hutchinson said.
³There has been no concern whatsoever from our staff and customers¹ point of view.²
ERB posted an interim profit result of $16.4 million for the first six months of the cuRrent financial year.
The half-year profit compares to a corresponding result of $13.2m in the first half of the 2006 financial year.
Mr Hutchinson attributed the profit increase to the ongoing growth of ERB, driven by its customers adopting a wider range of banking services.
Loans of $2.882b at December 31 were 16pc higher than at December 31, 2005.
Deposits also rose by 16pc to be $2.924b.
³Whatever the shareholder composition is moving forward, we think the formula ERB has developed and our adjacency to Elders is strong regardless of what shareholder transactions may occur,² Mr Hutchinson said.
The BoQ is offering 0.748 BoQ shares and $5.50 cash for each Bendigo share after two years of talks.
The BoQ posted a 21pc rise in first-half net profits this month and shares began trading this week at $18.98. Bendigo shares opened the week at $17.80.
According to BoQ managing director David Liddy, an alliance between the two banks would create opportunities apart from the four main banks and St George.
³This is not a big bank coming down south and marauding,² he said. ³This is about two small banks which have complemen-tary philosophies getting toge-ther.²
Mr Liddy acknowledged Bendigo shareholder concerns and the future of their community banks.
He said both banks had developed successful community-based branches and customer service.
Both banks had stood firm in rural Australia while other institutions had left.
³Our business model will strive to preserve the unique character and particular customer focus of both current Bendigo Bank and BoQ branch networks and business units,² Mr Liddy said.
³It¹s our aim to create a sustainable force, an alternative in the Australian banking financial services landscape.²
Mr Liddy said no community branches or owner-managed branches would be closed under the proposal.
³We will continue to open branches and our initial footprint will be over 575 branches, with business banking and equipment finance centres in each state,² he said.
The BoQ has already indicated plans to opening branches in WA and South Australia.
Synergy benefits of a merger are estimated to be about $70 million.
The Bendigo Bank issued a short press statement earlier this month and said it was continuing to review BoQ¹s proposal.