Axa agrees £9bn takeover plan from NAB

City A.M. Reporter
FRANCE’S AXA SA accepted a A$14bn (£8.5bn) takeover plan from National Australia Bank for its AXA Asia Pacific unit yesterday, moving closer to end a four-month takeover tussle.

With AXA SA finally on NAB’s side, all eyes will now be on whether the competition watchdog approves Australia’s second-largest financial services deal, almost two months after the French insurer’s deal with rival bidder AMP expired.

A deal would cement NAB’s leadership in the $1trillion Australian wealth market, the fourth-largest globally, and could boost NAB’s shares today, analysts said.

NAB said it will look at the appetite for its shares from AXA Asia Pacific’s minority shareholders before deciding on a share sale, watering down a December announcement of A$1.5bn share sale plan.

“We believe this removes one of the key bear factors holding back the stock,” Citigroup analyst Craig Williams said.

The stock has fallen one per cent since it threw its hat in the ring for AXA AP in mid-December, compared to a 10 to 18 per cent rise for rivals. NAB has the second-highest capital ratio of Australia’s Big Four banks.