NAB mulls sale of AXA tech arm to win over regulator

4th June 2010, Comments 0 comments

National Australia Bank (NAB) said Friday it was in talks to sell an investment technology arm of AXA Asia Pacific if it gets approval to buy the firm, in a bid to satisfy Australian regulators.

NAB said it was discussing the move with AXA, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and "other interested third parties" as it tries to win approval for its 13.29 billion dollar (11.59 billion US) buyout.

The ACCC rejected NAB's bid for AXA in April, citing concerns about a lack of competition between retail investment platforms.

"NAB is considering the possible divestment of the North investment platform business of AXA APH," NAB said in a statement to the Australian Stock Exchange.

"However, at this stage there is no assurance that such a possible divestment will occur or that it will address the concerns raised by the ACCC," it added.

Analysts say NAB and AXA Asia Pacific's platforms, excluding North, already account for more than 25 percent of the market.

North is a wealth management technology linking financial planners and superannuation, pension or ordinary investors with more than 130 products, with initial capital and contributions guaranteed against market volatility.

AXA Asia Pacific and its French parent AXA SA this week agreed to give NAB until July 15 to address the regulator's concerns.

Under the bid 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.

If the 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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