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Regulator denies ANZ’s foreign sale

Regulator denies ANZ’s foreign sale

ANZ Bank’s attempt to sell a finance subsidiary to a Chinese conglomerate has been blocked by a New Zealand regulator.

New Zealand’s Overseas Investment Office (OIO) has blocked ANZ New Zealand’s attempt to sell its finance subsidiary, UDC Finance, to Chinese conglomerate HNA Group.

According to ANZ Bank Group executive and New Zealand chief executive officer David Hisco, the sale may not take place if the OIO does not overturn its decision following a potential appeal from HNA Group.

“While the sale agreement between the parties remains in place, unless HNA successfully overturns the OIO decision, the sale will not proceed,” Mr Hisco said.

“We don’t know if HNA will attempt to overturn the decision.”

The CEO added that the bank may need to revise its strategy surrounding the future of UDC Finance.

“If the sale does not proceed, we’ll assess our strategic options regarding the future of UDC. It’s a great business and there is no immediate requirement to do anything, particularly given the strength of ANZ’s capital position,” the executive continued.

Mr Hisco also took the opportunity to flaunt the strength of the ANZ subsidiary and stated that it will be “business as usual” if the sale falls through.

The executive said: “UDC continues to be a highly profitable and strong business, with great staff and customers, and a growing loan portfolio across a range of industries.

“UDC’s focus remains on its core business of financing vehicles and equipment for people and companies across New Zealand.

“So, it will be business as usual for our staff and customers.”

The major lender has noted that its FY18 earnings will also take a hit if the sale does not go ahead.

Further, ANZ claimed that the decision “has no impact” on the recently announced $1.5 billion on-market buyback of shares.

The bank recently sold its 20 per cent stake in Shanghai Rural Commercial Bank, and it also sold its life insurance business to Zurich Financial.

[Related: ANZ pledges to restore confidence in banks]

Regulator denies ANZ’s foreign sale
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