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Australian regulator blocks NAB bid for AXA Asia Pacific

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Australia’s competition watchdog Monday rejected National Australia Bank’s proposed 12.2 billion US dollar takeover of AXA Asia Pacific Holdings (AXA), but did not oppose a rival bid by Australia’s AMP.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said the NAB and AXA merger did not raise concerns in superannuation, insurance and banking, but it could lessen competition. “At the heart of the ACCC’s decisions are concerns about innovation, and as a consequence future rigorous and effective competition between retail investment platforms,” commission chairman Graeme Samuel said.

“Allowing NAB and AXA to merge would significantly diminish incentives to compete for retail investment platforms used by investors that have complex financial needs,” he said in a statement. The body said a merger between AMP and AXA would not have this effect. “The ACCC concluded that because AMP does not own its own wrap platform it is constrained in its ability to compete aggressively,” Samuel said.

Sydney, April 19, 2010 (AFP)