RETAIL BANKING | Tony Chua, Australia

Regulator to consult market on NAB's AXA bid

NAB hopes to ease the concerns of the regulator through its revised offer.

Australia's competition regulator agreed to consult the market on National Australia Bank's proposals to salvage its $12 billion takeover of AXA Asia Pacific, giving it a glimmer of hope the deal would eventually succeed.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said on Monday it hoped to rule on the undertakings or some proposed asset sales by September 9.

AXA and NAB said in a statement they had agreed to extend the period for transaction documents until September 9 to enable the ACCC to "satisfy concerns" it raised.

NAB is hoping its revised offer would ease the concerns of the regulator, which rejected its original proposal in April, and it could then wrap up the long-protracted deal to secure its dominance in the fast growing $1 trillion Australian wealth management market, the world's fourth largest.

The regulator's announcement ends weeks of speculation over whether NAB will be able to ease the opposition of the regulator to the deal. Market rumors reached such heights that AXA Asia, a unit of France's AXA SA, asked for a halt in the trading of its shares last Thursday.

With the regulators move, analysts predicted NAB, AXA Asia Pacific and AXA SA would extend their agreement on the deal beyond its August 31 expiration.

View the full story in Reuters.

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