ANZ-Suncorp Merger Halted by ACCC
(4 August 2023 – Australia) The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has not authorised ANZ to acquire Suncorp Group’s banking division citing concerns over SME lending and mortgage competition.
The ACCC adjudicated that non-Big Four domestic banks such as Suncorp and Bendigo Adeliade are important competitors against the majors, especially because barriers to entry at scale into banking are elevated as evidenced by the failure of neobanks to gain a foothold in recent years with the exception of Judo Bank. The decision was handed down following lengthy delays frustrating both parties despite the Queensland government supporting the merger.
ANZ has committed to take its acquisition plans to the tribunal after the ACCC rejected the A$4.9 billion acquisition on fears it would “further entrench an oligopoly” and lead to reduced competition in mortgage lending, agribusiness and small business banking in Queensland.
“We are not satisfied that the acquisition is not likely to substantially lessen competition in the supply of home loans nationally, small to medium enterprise banking in Queensland, and agribusiness banking in Queensland. These banking markets are critical for many home owners and for Queensland businesses and farmers in particular. Competition being lessened in these markets will lead to customers getting a worse deal” commented ACCC Deputy Chair Mick Keogh.
“We are naturally disappointed and disagree with the ACCC’s decision. We are closely reviewing the determination and will seek an independent decision through the avenues of review available to us. We believe the acquisition will improve competition, which will benefit Australian consumers, particularly in Queensland. All of the relevant markets are intensely competitive and will continue to be intensely competitive after the acquisition” commented ANZ CEO Shayne Elliott.
“Indeed, the acquisition will create a combined bank which is better equipped to respond to competitive pressures, and deliver significant public benefits, particularly in Queensland” Mr Elliott added.