Page last updated at 09:07 GMT, Monday, 19 April 2010 10:07 UK

Axa Asia Pacific takeover bid blocked

NAB bank branch
National Australia Bank offered more money for Axa than local rival AMP

Australia's competition watchdog has blocked a takeover bid for Axa Asia Pacific by National Australia Bank (NAB) and French insurer Axa.

The financial services firm had agreed to a 13.3bn Australian dollar ($12.2bn; £8bn) bid at the end of last month.

But the watchdog said the deal would reduce competition in the domestic retail investment area.

The move opens the way for local rival AMP to make a make a further bid, after a first offer was rejected in December.

That offer was also in conjunction with France's Axa.

"A merger between NAB and Axa [Asia Pacific] would result in a substantial lessening of competition in the market for retail investment platforms for investors with complex investment needs," the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said.

"However, an independent Axa or a merger between AMP and Axa would not have this effect."

Under the terms of the rejected deal, NAB said it would pay A$4.6bn for Axa Asia Pacific's Australian and New Zealand businesses, while Paris-based Axa would pay A$9.4bn for the Asia businesses.

Axa, which is Europe's second-largest insurer, bought a 51% stake in Axa Asia Pacific in 1995.

NAB is Australia's largest lender.

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