WEALTH MANAGEMENT | Tony Chua, Australia

AXA grants NAB extension to win regulator’s nod

Exclusivity agreement prevents AXA from seeking bids from other banks for 6 weeks.

AXA Asia Pacific Holdings Ltd. and French parent AXA SA on Tuesday gave suitor National Australia Bank Ltd. six more weeks to win regulatory approval for its 13.29 billion Australian dollars (US$16.2 billion) takeover bid for the Australian wealth management and life insurance company.

The three parties said Tuesday they have extended until July 15 an exclusivity agreement that prevents AXA Asia Pacific from soliciting rival bids as NAB continues to talk with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

Five months after launching its bid, Australia's fourth biggest bank is considering possible asset sales as a way of winning over the ACCC after the regulator said on April 19 it would oppose the bid because of concerns about competition in the provision of retail investment platforms.

"NAB continues to pursue its options in relation to the ACCC objections to the proposal," the bank said in a statement.

The ACCC doesn't want to see AXA APH's new-generation North platform merged with NAB's Navigator platform. Given NAB said in April it's committed to Navigator, North is the most likely candidate for divestment.

However one reported contender to buy the North platform ruled itself out of the running Tuesday, adding to the potential for a rushed sale ahead of the merger to weigh on the price NAB receives for the asset.

View the full story in the Wall Street Journal.

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