ANZ’s $3.2 billion Suncorp bank unit buyout approved by tribunal By Reuters

© Reuters. A pedestrian is reflected in the window of a branch of the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ) in central Sydney, Australia, October 25, 2017. REUTERS/Steven Saphore/File Photo

By Scott Murdoch and Renju Jose

SYDNEY (Reuters) -ANZ Group’s A$4.9 billion ($3.2 billion) buyout of Suncorp’s banking business was allowed by the Australian Competition Tribunal on Tuesday, meaning the bank can press on with the takeover of its significant rival.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) in August had blocked the deal, which it believed would worsen competition in Australia’s banking sector.

But the Australian Competition Tribunal’s deputy president, Justice John Halley, told the Federal Court in Sydney on Tuesday there were sufficient “net public benefits” to allow the deal to go ahead.

“This is a significant milestone and an important step forward in the process, however we still have further conditions to meet,” ANZ Chief Executive Shayne Elliott said in a statement. “We remain committed to completing the acquisition as soon as possible once all sale conditions are met.”

The takeover still requires approval by Australian Treasurer Jim Chalmers. Official sign-off from the government of Queensland, where Suncorp is based, is also needed.

ANZ, which is Australia’s fourth-largest lender by market capitalisation, had appealed the ACCC’s August ruling along with Suncorp.

The ACCC did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

The ACCC said last year that allowing the deal to go ahead would “further entrench an oligopoly market structure” in which four lenders, including ANZ, have three quarters of the country’s A$2 trillion in home loans.

ANZ said when it first announced the Suncorp transaction in 2022 that buying the banking assets would boost its mortgage book by A$47 billion to A$307 billion.

Suncorp, one of Australia’s biggest general insurers, has been keen to streamline its business to focus on insurance and reduce the capital requirements from owning a bank.

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