Australian banking major has moved to distance itself from a comment passed by a senior executive with the lender, suggesting that ANZ is not interested in acquiring AMP. Markets are speculating that ANZ intends to launch its own takeover bid for Australian wealth manager AMP.
Last week Alex Thrusby, ANZ’s international chief executive said the lender was not examining a bid for AMP after meeting Taiwanese regulators following the lenders takeover of RBS’s Taiwan operations.
Asked if ANZ was interested in bidding for AMP, Mr Thursby reportedly said: “No. We are a bank.” He declined to comment further.
On Friday an ANZ spokesperson backtracked from the comment saying:”Despite Mr Thursby’s comments, we prefer not to comment on market speculation,” the spokesman said.
The spokesperson went on to say that following the acquisition of ANZ’s partner ING’s 51 per cent stake in their Australian wealth management joint venture for $1.76 billion, the lender intended to outline a strategy going forward for its wealth management business during the first half of 2010.
AMP has initiated an unsolicited joint takeover bid for AXA Asia Pacific Holdings (APH), with the company’s French parent AXA SA. The bid values APH at $11.7 billion and is structured so that AMP would acquire the entire company, sell its Asian businesses to AXA SA for $7 billion, leaving the Australian wealth management unit full owned by AMP for a cost of approximately $4 billion.
Independent board members of the target company however have rejected the bid, and have said that the bid significantly undervalues the company.
“The proposal has been received against the backdrop of recent weakness in global financial markets and before the growth of our Asian operations is fully reflected in our profitability,” chairman Rick Allert said last month.
Many analysts believe that ANZ is likely to emerge as a bidder for AMP itself, since it is underweight in the wealth management sector. However an acquisition of AMP would result in a lower stock price as a result of a highly diluted earnings per share from the combined group.