Westpac Banking Corp frontrunner for Lloyds Banking Group assets in Australia

By Marc Castro

Oct 09, 2013 11:59 AM EDT

Westpac Banking Corp remained as the frontrunner to the acquisition of the main Australian business of UK lending firm Lloyds Banking Group Plc. The deal would most likely to be announced by the week's end, according to individuals familiar with the situation.

The bank is the second largest in terms of market value submitted a bid worth AUD1.5 billion or USD1.4 billion for the asset finance and commercial units of Lloyd's Australia. The final price though may be lower should the bank choose to retain some of the assets under Lloyds International Pty Ltd, the holdings company of the units up for bidding.

The deal, once completed, would be the largest acquisition to date for Westpac, after it paid AUD18 billion for St. George Bank Ltd back in 2008. The deal would also provide the Sydney-based bank to corner more than 40% share of the leasing finance market of Australia. This though had attracted the scrutiny of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

For its part, a spokesperson for the Australian competition regulator said through an email, "If a transaction is announced, the ACCC will be likely to conduct a public review and details will be posted on our website."

Other parties are interested in the Lloyds business include Macquarie Group Ltd and a Pepper Australia Pty Ltd led consortium as well as Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

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