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NAB gains more time to meet regulator concerns on Axa offer

Monday 19th July 2010

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National Australia Bank won more time to try to meet Australian antitrust concerns about its proposed takeover of Axa Asia Pacific Holdings.

NAB gained agreement from Axa AP and parent Axa SA for a time extension until August 31 to satisfy the concerns of the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission, it said in a statement today.

NAB’s A$13.3 billion offer was shot down by the ACCC in April and the lender has since said it was in talks with potential bidders for AXA AP’s North investment platform to try to alleviate the regulator’s concerns about market dominance.

The Melbourne-based bank’s proposal would see it acquiring the Australian and New Zealand assets of Axa AP while France’s Axa SA would pick up its Asian businesses.

“NAB continues to pursue its options in relation to the ACCC objections,” it said.

As part of the extension, the parties agreed that Axa AP’s directors can declare a dividend of up to 9.25 Australian cents a share for the six months ended June 30. The payment won’t have an impact on the net assets of the Australian and New Zealand businesses that NAB would get if the deal is completed.

The agreement may be a setback for rival bidder AMP, whose lower-value offer was rejected by Axa AP last December

Shares of NAB fell 1.4% to A$24.14 on the ASX, while Axa AP slipped about 1% to A$5.20, giving it a market value of A$10.9 billion. AMP declined 1.3% to A$5.28.

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