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NBNZ on the block?

Thursday 29th May 2003

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Reports out of London suggest that Lloyds TSB has appointed advisers to look at selling its New Zealand operations.

The Financial Times says the bank could be worth up to US$3.9 bill.

It says that Deutsche Bank have been appointed as advisers and ANZ is interested in buying the National Bank.

Other Australian banks including Commonwealth Bank and Westpac, both with sizeable operations in New Zealand, are also thought to be interested.

Lloyds has owned the NBNZ since 1966. While it is interested in selling the business it is also understood to be prepared to keep it if a high enough price isn't forthcoming.

Analysts said the operation would be a good fit with ANZ, which wants to expand beyond its home market. Buying National Bank of New Zealand would help ANZ counter slowing growth at home, where regulatory concerns have blocked merger between Australia's four largest banks.

ANZ is already pursuing major expansion plans in China and indicated recently that it could invest up to 10% of its capital, or A$1bn (US$649m), in Asia.

Lloyds TSB refused to comment on the speculation the Financial Times reports.

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