Australia's NAB in talks to extend AXA deal deadline

16th July 2010, Comments 0 comments

National Australia Bank said Friday it was in talks with takeover target AXA Asia Pacific and its parent AXA SA to extend a deadline for NAB to satisfy regulators about its 11.7 billion US dollar bid.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission in April disallowed NAB's 13.29 billion Australian dollar (11.7 billion US) offer for AXA Asia Pacific (AXA APH) but gave it six weeks to address regulatory fears.

France's AXA SA and NAB agreed in March on the takeover of AXA Asia Pacific, under which the French company would take its subsidiary's Asian arm while NAB would control its Australian and New Zealand businesses.

The transaction would have seen NAB become one of Australia and New Zealand's leading wealth management groups, with AXA SA gaining a valuable Asian presence.

NAB is now negotiating with AXA APH and its parent and major shareholder AXA SA to further extend the time allowed for the Australian bank to deal with the concerns.

"In the meantime the agreements between AXA APH, AXA SA and NAB as already disclosed remain in place," NAB said in a brief statement. In a separate statement, AXA APH described the negotiations as "advanced".

The parties to the deal had agreed to back NAB's proposed takeover of AXA APH until midnight Thursday, an agreement preventing AXA Asia Pacific from soliciting rival bids. However they were widely expected to agree to more time for NAB to win Australian regulatory approval.

In rebuffing the bid by NAB, Australia's fourth largest bank, the watchdog cited concerns about a lack of competition that could be caused by the merging of AXA APH's and NAB's retail investment platforms.

The competition watchdog said it preferred a rival 12.85 billion Australian dollar offer from Australian financial services group AMP as it would not involve merging two retail platforms into one.

NAB then entered into talks with AXA APH and its parent about selling off AXA APH's retail investment platform to avoid having to merge it with NAB's own platform.

Dow Jones Newswires contributed to this report

© 2010 AFP

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