Tuesday, 26 May 2020 Sydney

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has commenced market consultations over National Australia Bank’s AXA Asia Pacific Holdings bid::

In a move to expedite the conclusion of the National Australia Bank’s offer for Axa Asia Pacific, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said it has commenced market consultations regarding the deal. The Australia National Bank had offered $13.3 billion for the acquisition of AXA Asia Pacific Holdings Ltd’s Australian and New Zealand businesses.

When the deal was first announced, the ACCC had objected to the deal arguing that it might hurt competition in Australian market for retail investment platforms with complex investment needs. However, in a turn of events, the Australian watchdog said it will investigate if concerns over National Australia Bank’s sell of AXA APH’s North platform Holdings can be reduced. As such, the competition watchdog has invited submissions till the 23rd of August this year.

The Australian competition watchdog thus reiterated that it would make a decision after the market consultations on whether to allow the deal or reject it. It will be making its decision known by the 9th of September this year. Steve Tucker, National Australia Bank’s group executive, said the bank had pondered the competition watchdog’s concerns and as such believes IOOF has the ability to manage the North investment platform business.

In that regard, Tucker said the divestment will not detract from the reasons for the proposed acquisition investments; neither will they impact the financial outcomes.  In the financial year 2009, the National Australia Bank reported a profit of $2.6 billion. A crucial part of the banks investment is the sale of the North platform, an internet portal that links it with its customers.

Even so, the National Australia Bank said it will remain in talks with the competition watchdog to try and win its approval for the investment. In a statement, the bank said it will sustain discussions with ACCC for the acquisition of AXA Asia Pacific Holdings’ Australian and New Zealand businesses.  The bank said it will be making an announcement to the markets soon.

Earlier on, the bank had been put on a trading halt pending an announcement. On its part, AXA Asia Pacific Holdings first half profits for 2010 declined by 19%, partly due to weak global markets. AXA Asia Pacific said net profit for the six months to June was A$219.2 million versus A$270.4 million a year ago

10 Aug 2010.