New Zealand regulator approves AMP takeover of AXA assets

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New Zealand's competition regulator Monday gave the green light for any takeover by Australian-based AMP of the New Zealand and Australian operations of AXA Asia Pacific Holdings.

The decision by the New Zealand Commerce Commission means financial services company AMP will be in a stronger position to renew its offer for the business, which is majority owned by France's AXA.

A 13.29 Australian billion dollar (11.75 billion US) rival bid by National Australia Bank (NAB) was rejected in April by Australia's competition regulator, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

New Zealand Commerce Commission chairman Mark Berry said it was satisfied that the proposed deal would not substantially lessen competition in any of the affected markets.

"The commission considers that competition from existing participants in the affected markets would be sufficient to constrain the merged AMP and AXA," he said.

AMP welcomed the decision, saying any merger with AXA Asia Pacific assets would strengthen the financial services sector in Australia and New Zealand.

The ACCC has previously said it would not oppose AMP's 12.85 billion dollar offer, which was rejected by AXA Asia Pacific's independent directors in December in favour of the higher NAB bid.

© 2010 AFP

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