Australia approves ANZ’s $3.3 billion buyout of Suncorp Bank

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SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia on Friday gave the go-ahead for ANZ Group’s A$4.9 billion ($3.26 billion) buyout of Suncorp’s banking business, clearing the deal to proceed after almost two years of scrutiny by financial regulators and treasury.

Treasurer Jim Chalmers said the deal can proceed subject to enforceable conditions and had come after careful consideration, and consultation with treasury, regulators and the unions.

“Following this lengthy and robust process, I received clear advice … that it would not be in the national interest to prohibit this transaction,” Chalmers said in a statement.

“The conditions I have imposed are legally-binding and ensure Australians continue to have access to vital banking services (and) employees aren’t left behind.”

The conditions prohibit ANZ to close Suncorp’s regional bank branches and cut jobs across Australia for three years, Chalmers said.

Chalmers said the deal will help Suncorp to focus on its insurance businesses, at a time when the sector faces a range of specific challenges, including access and affordability.

The deal was originally blocked by Australia’s competition regulator in August on the grounds it would limit competition in the banking sector. But the Australian Competition Tribunal in February cleared the deal after the two companies appealed the decision.

ANZ CEO Shayne Elliott said the deal will allow it to add scale to its retail and commercial businesses, enabling ANZ to more effectively compete in the Australian market.

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The logo of the ANZ Banking Group is displayed in the window of a newly opened branch in central Sydney, Australia, April 30, 2016.  REUTERS/David Gray/File Photo

“Our plans for the integration are well advanced, and we are confident of the substantial benefits that will flow,” Elliott said.

($1 = 1.5044 Australian dollars)

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