AXA extends takeover deadline for Australia's NAB

1st June 2010, Comments 0 comments

Financial services firm AXA Asia Pacific and its French parent AXA SA Tuesday said they had given suitor National Australia Bank six more weeks to satisfy Australian regulators about its takeover bid.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) in April rejected NAB's 13.29 billion dollar (11.59 billion US) offer, and AXA last month said the Australian bank had until May 31 to resolve the ACCC's concerns.

But AXA said Tuesday it had agreed to extend its exclusivity deal with NAB until the "end of the day on July 15".

"Approval from the ACCC is one of the conditions for the proposal to succeed," AXA said in a statement to the Australian stock exchange on Tuesday.

"NAB is currently in discussions with the ACCC to determine whether the ACCC's concerns can be addressed."

AXA chairman Rick Allert last month told shareholders the directors could terminate their backing for the NAB bid if the competition watchdog's objections could not be resolved.

But Allert said he believed the NAB offer -- under which France's AXA SA, the holding company for the AXA Group, would take its subsidiary's Asian arm while NAB would control its Australian and New Zealand businesses -- was still in the best interests of shareholders.

NAB said the extension to the deadline, under which AXA is not allowed to solicit rival bids, meant no party would be able to terminate the bid before July 15 on competition grounds.

"NAB continues to pursue its options in relation to the ACCC objections to the proposal," the bank said in a statement.

The ACCC quashed the NAB bid on competition grounds on April 19, but did not oppose a rival 12.85 billion dollar offer from Australian financial services group AMP.

AMP has said it is mulling a new bid for AXA Asia Pacific, but no fresh offer has yet been made.

If the NAB proposal goes ahead it would be the largest ever takeover in Australia's financial services sector, and would see NAB become one of Australia and New Zealand's leading wealth management groups.

© 2010 AFP

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