Macquarie Can Bid for Esanda, Competition Watchdog Says

  • Purchase would build on strategy to focus on stable businesses
  • ANZ Bank revealed plans to sell Esanda business in May

Macquarie Group Ltd. was cleared by Australia’s competition regulator to bid for Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd.’s Esanda dealer finance business.

“The combination of existing and potential competitive constraints would be sufficient to prevent a substantial lessening of competition as a result of the possible acquisition,” Rod Sims, chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, said in a statement Thursday.

The decision paves the way for Macquarie to compete for about A$8.3 billion ($6 billion) in lending assets comprising point-of-sale finance, funding for showroom stock and other Esanda-branded finance offered to motor vehicle dealers. The purchase would build on Chief Executive Officer Nicholas Moore’s strategy to focus on businesses that shelter Macquarie from the boom and bust cycle of investment banking.

The Sydney-based investment bank, China’s HNA Group Co. and Pepper Group Ltd. were among bidders for Esanda, people familiar with the process said July 21. Final bids for the business are due next week, according to a person with knowledge of the transaction, who asked not to be named because the information is private.

ANZ, which is looking to shore up capital amid regulatory changes, revealed plans to sell Esanda in May. Its Chief Financial Officer Shayne Elliott said that month the sale could add 20 basis points to common-equity Tier 1 capital.

The merged entity would face competition from Westpac Banking Corp., finance companies aligned with automakers and possible new entrants in the market, the ACCC said.

Macquarie advanced 0.4 percent as of 1:43 p.m. Sydney time. The stock climbed 35 percent this year, compared with the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index’s 4.5 percent drop. The stock gauge rose 1.3 percent on Thursday, while ANZ added 1.5 percent.

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