Westpac Purchase of Lloyds Australia Can Proceed, Regulator Says

Australia’s corporate regulator said it won’t oppose Westpac Banking Corp. (WBC)’s proposed purchase of Lloyds Banking Group Plc (LLOY)’s assets in the nation.

The acquisition “would be unlikely to result in a substantial lessening of competition in any relevant market,” Australian Competition and Consumer Commission Chairman Rod Sims said in a statement today. Westpac’s and Lloyds’ Australian units compete in equipment and motor vehicle finance, according to the statement.

Westpac, the nation’s second-biggest lender by market value, in October agreed to buy Lloyds’ Australian assets in a deal valued at A$1.45 billion ($1.33 billion), its largest acquisition since buying St. George Bank Ltd. for A$18.5 billion in 2008. The transaction includes an A$8.4 billion leasing and corporate loan portfolio.

“We welcome the outcome of the ACCC’s informal merger review process and look forward to completing the acquisition as planned,” Phil Coffey, Westpac’s chief financial officer, said in a separate statement. The purchase should be completed by Dec. 31, the bank said.

The deal allows Westpac, prevented from merging with its three biggest rivals, to broaden a business dominated by mortgages. Lloyds, bailed out by the U.K. government in 2008, joins firms including Goldman Sachs Group Inc. that have raised more than $15 billion since 2012 by selling shares in Asian institutions as new banking regulations make it more expensive to hold minority stakes.

To contact the reporter on this story: Paulina Duran in Sydney at pduran10@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Katrina Nicholas at knicholas2@bloomberg.net

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