NAB gets time to finalise its Axa Asia deal

Marion Dakers
INSURER AXA has given National Australia Bank (NAB) six more weeks to win regulatory approval for its takeover bid for insurer and wealth manager AXA Asia Pacific Holdings (APH).

All three firms are locked in an exclusivity agreement until 15 July while NAB continues talks with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), which blocked its A$13.3bn (£8bn) bid in April.

After five months of negotiations NAB is said to be considering selling assets to satisfy the regulators and stave off rival bids. The bank would not discuss its plans, but said in a statement: “NAB continues to pursue its options in relation to the ACCC objections to the proposal.”

The watchdog has expressed concern that NAB, Australia’s fourth biggest bank and owner of Clydesdale, would choke competition by controlling too many retail investment platforms. The ACCC is reluctant to allow NAB to merge its own Navigator platform with APH’s internet-based North system.

AMP, an Australian wealth management company which said last month it remained in “high level” negotiations with APH, was unavailable to comment on the extension. APH was also unavailable for comment.

NAB’s proposed takeover would split APH’s operations between AXA Group and the bank. The complex deal would see NAB acquire 100 per cent of APH, which is currently 51 per cent owned by AXA Group. NAB would then sell the Asia-Pacific operations back to AXA Group, and retain the New Zealand and Australian branch.