21 February 2024

Australian Competition Tribunal authorises acquisition of Suncorp by ANZ

On 20 February 2024, the Australian Competition Tribunal (Tribunal) authorised the acquisition of Suncorp’s banking business by ANZ, one of Australia’s “Big Four” banks. 

The Tribunal found that the acquisition would not substantially lessen competition in any relevant market and that the acquisition represents a net public benefit because any detriments arising from any reduction in competition are unlikely to be sufficiently certain and significant to outweigh the more certain integration and productive efficiencies arising from the acquisition.  

The Tribunal’s decision came after ANZ and Suncorp applied to the Tribunal for a review of the decision by the Australian Competition and Consumers Commission (ACCC) on 4 August 2023 not to authorise the acquisition.  The ACCC had chosen not to authorise the acquisition because it had not been satisfied that the transaction would not result in a substantial lessening of competition in the supply of home loans nationally, small to medium enterprise banking in Queensland, and agribusiness banking in Queensland, and because it had considered that the claimed public benefits did not outweigh the likely public detriment. 

Completion of the acquisition remains subject to legislative amendments by the Queensland Parliament and approval by the Federal Treasurer.  If the acquisition is completed, it will be the largest bank merger in Australia since the global financial crisis. 

An RBB team led by Patrick Smith, assisted by Jack Mays and Emma Rooney, prepared three expert economic reports on the topics of public benefits and the acquisition’s likely effect on competition in the national home loans market.  These reports were submitted to the ACCC and later relied on by ANZ during the Tribunal’s review.  RBB was instructed by Ashurst, solicitors acting for ANZ.

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