Australia's competition regulator blocked National Australia Bank's $12bn (£7.8bn) bid for AXA Asia Pacific for a second time, dashing NAB's efforts to cement its dominance in the world's fourth-largest wealth management market.
The decision clears the decks for Australia's second-biggest fund manager, AMP, to take another tilt at AXA Asia Pacific after its cash and share offer was trumped by NAB in December.
The ruling sent AXA Asia Pacific's shares tumbling by a tenth to levels not seen since it was put in play late last year, as investors bet NAB, Australia's top lender, would give up its nine-month quest for control of the unit of France's AXA.
"I think it is time for NAB to move away from this bid. It has been nearly a year and they don't need more distractions," said Tom Elliot, Managing Director at hedge fund MM&E Capital.
Australia's top four banks, which hold dominant positions in everything from mortgages to life insurance, are looking to increase their sway over the $1 trillion wealth market that is seen growing at over 10 percent annually for the next five years on compulsory pension contributions, compared to loan growth of under five per cent a year.
City A.M. Reporter