ANZ's acquisition of Suncorp's banking arm approved by Federal Treasurer

Company News

by Glenn Dyer

Federal Treasurer Jim Chalmers has approved ANZ's (ASX:ANZ) purchase of Suncorp’s (ASX:SUN) banking arm for $4.9 billion.

The decision clears the way for the biggest merger in banking since the Commonwealth Bank acquired the struggling Bankwest during the global financial crisis in 2008, and Westpac bought St. George at the same time.

ANZ chief executive Shayne Elliott has welcomed the Treasurer's approval of the bank’s acquisition of Suncorp Bank as “a significant milestone” that will help the bank compete more effectively in Australia.

“Queensland is thriving,” Elliott said in a statement. “With strong economic growth, high workforce participation, and more interstate migration than any other state or territory, we’re excited about the opportunities Queensland presents for ANZ and our customers.”

ANZ successfully overturned the competition watchdog’s opposition to the takeover through a court challenge earlier this year, leaving it up to Chalmers to say ‘yes’ or ’no’.

The Queensland parliament changed legislation last year to allow the deal to proceed.

Chalmers said ‘yes’ after obtaining agreement from ANZ on staffing numbers and services, especially in isolated areas of Queensland.

Chalmers announced requirements for ANZ that prohibit any regional Suncorp or ANZ branch closures across Australia for three years, no net job losses across Australia for three years due to the transaction, and for ANZ to make “best endeavours” to join Australia Post’s banking network.

In its first announcement of the proposed deal in July 2022, ANZ had already pledged there would be no change in the number of Suncorp branches in Queensland for at least three years after the deal is completed.

The bank last year also committed to establishing a technology hub in Brisbane with 700 jobs in the state under an agreement with the Queensland government.

The sale will reduce Suncorp to its insurance base (mostly AAMI). The company had pledged to make capital management measures to return the net proceeds to shareholders.

These will need Tax Office and other approvals, and the bank said Friday it expects to reveal them in the first quarter of 2025, probably when it announces its December half-year figures in February next year.

Glenn Dyer

Glenn Dyer has been a finance journalist and TV producer for more than 40 years. He has worked at Maxwell Newton Publications, Queensland Newspapers, AAP, The Australian Financial Review, The Nine Network and Crikey.

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