ANZ Bank Said to Consider Aozora Bank Bid, Taking Asian Expansion to Japan

Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. is considering buying Japan’s Aozora Bank Ltd. (8304) as part of a plan to expand in Asia and broaden its funding sources, according to a person familiar with the matter.

An assessment by ANZ Bank, Australia’s third-largest lender by market value, of Tokyo-based Aozora is in the early stages and there’s no guarantee a deal will proceed, said the person, who asked not to be identified because ANZ Bank’s intentions haven’t been made public.

Buying Aozora and its pool of customer deposits would ease ANZ Bank’s reliance on overseas debt markets to fund its lending business. Chief Executive Officer Mike Smith is focusing on doubling profit generated from Asia in the next seven years.

Melbourne-based ANZ Bank’s interest in Aozora was reported by the Australian Financial Review newspaper yesterday. The bank has about 3 trillion yen ($39 billion) in deposits, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. It has 20 branches and a market value of about 348 billion yen.

ANZ Bank dropped 0.2 percent to A$20.18 at the 4:10 p.m. close in Sydney, paring earlier gains. The stock has slid 14 percent this year. Aozora, which climbed 5.4 percent yesterday, rose a further 8.2 percent to 211 yen in Tokyo today, taking this year’s gain to 26 percent.

New York-based Cerberus Capital Management LP owns 50 percent of Aozora. Cerberus spokesman Peter Duda couldn’t be reached outside of normal business hours in New York.

Hiroyuki Kajitani, a Tokyo-based spokesman at Aozora, declined to comment.

To contact the reporter on this story: Angus Whitley in Sydney at awhitley1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Philip Lagerkranser at lagerkranser@bloomberg.net

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