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AFG responds to acquisition rumours

Mortgage aggregator AFG has spoken out about speculation that a major bank is planning a takeover.

On Thursday, The Australian Financial Review reported that it understands Westpac Banking Corp has “been assessing a move into the [mortgage broking] industry by running a ruler over Perth-based company Australian Finance Group (AFG)”.

“Westpac may think an acquisition would bolster its standing in the industry which has rationalised over the last decade,” the article said.

AFG executive director Kevin Matthews, however, dismissed the reports as “pure speculation”.

Speaking to Mortgage Business' sister title The Adviser, Mr Matthews explained that he and AFG managing director Brett McKeon were in Sydney last week to meet new Westpac chief executive Brian Hartzer.

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“We both walked into their offices on Kent Street together and somebody must have seen us and speculated,” he said.

“There is no truth to the speculation that Westpac are ‘running a ruler’ over AFG. If there was, we would probably be under some confidentiality clause and wouldn’t be able to talk about it anyway.

“It is pure speculation. None of it has come from us. We were as surprised as anyone else when they printed the story, because the AFR did call me and asked me about it.

“I told them nothing was going on and they still went ahead and printed the story the next day, which I thought was pretty strange.”

Westpac was not available for comment by Mortgage Business' deadline.

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