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ANZ may float UDC Finance after OIO vetoes sale

ANZ Bank is exploring an initial public offering for UDC Finance, after a planned $660 million sale to Chinese conglomerate HNA Group was rejected by the Overseas Investment Office in December.

ANZ NZ chief executive David Hisco said an IPO was "part of a range of strategic options for UDC’s future" as part of ANZ’s strategy to simplify the bank and improve capital efficiency.

"While UDC is continuing to perform well and there is no immediate requirement to make decisions, after last year’s planned sale to HNA did not proceed it makes sense to keep examining a broad range of options for UDC’s future," Hisco said. "This will include exploring whether, subject to market conditions, an IPO would be in the interests of UDC’s staff and customers, and ANZ shareholders.

"The range of strategic options we have for UDC, including approaches we have received regarding the business and the option of retaining it, will take a number of months to examine before any decision is made," Hisco said. "In the meantime, it will continue to be business as usual for UDC."

The HNA sale was first announced by ANZ in January 2017, but was terminated late in the year, when the OIO rejected the application. OIO officials said since it was impossible to tell who actually owned and controlled HNA from the information provided, criteria such as making sure the buyer was of good character couldn't be met.

Dual-listed parent Australia & New Zealand Banking Group's shares last traded at $29.87 on the NZX and have dropped 13 percent in the past 12 months.

BusinessDesk

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