Thursday, September 09, 2010

Australian regulator blocks NAB $12 bln bid for AXA

The Australian competition regulator has again opposed National Australia Bank's $12 billion bid for AXA Asia Pacific , dealing a blow to NAB's 9-month efforts to cement its dominance in the world's fourth-largest wealth management market.

The decision clears the deck for No.2 fund manager AMP to come back into the deal after it was trumped by NAB's offer in December last year.

But NAB could still hang on to the deal if AXA Asia's parent France's AXA gives it more time to convince the regulator by offering to sell more assets.

The ruling is also a blow to the French insurer, which is keen to shed its Australian operations and buy back its Asian businesses from the winner to concentrate on the fast-growing region.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, which last month agreed to consult the market on NAB's plan to sell AXA's key assets to gain approval, said market participants had felt NAB's plan would not effectively address concerns.

The regulator had blocked the deal in April in favour of AMP's offer citing concerns over falling competition in retail investment platforms-- a portal that binds the wealth manager, financial products and customers.

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