National Australia Bank abandons joint $12 billion bid for AXA Asia Pacific Holdings

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Australian Bank gives up $12B bid for insurer AXA

National Australia Bank Ltd. has pulled out of its bid to buy insurer AXA Asia Pacific Holdings Ltd. after Australian antitrust regulators blocked the $12 billion deal for the second time since April.

NAB, as the Australian bank is known, said in March that it would buy AXA Asia Pacific, retain the New Zealand and Australian businesses and sell the Asian business back to the parent company, Paris based AXA. The bid was in direct competition with a rival offer from AMP Ltd.

But the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has opposed NAB’s deal on grounds it would slash competition in the retail investment platform market. The market is dominated by NAB, Westpac and Macquarie Group.

NAB had sought to sell AXA APH’s North platform to IOOF Holdings Ltd. to appease the regulator, but the effort was not enough to convince regulators.

“Although we are disappointed with the decision of the ACCC, we have a strong position through MLC and NAB’s other wealth management businesses,” NAB group CEO Cameron Clyne said in a statement. “NAB remains very committed to participating in the wealth management industry which is an important part of the banks future. However, considering all the options, continuing with this agreement is not in the best interests of shareholders.”

AXA said in a statement that it is “fully committed to support the Australia and New Zealand businesses and will continue to review its options in the context of its growth strategy in Asia.”

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