Just weeks after the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) final veto of National Australia Bank’s (NAB) acquisition of AXA Asia Pacific (AXA AP), its chairman, Graeme Samuel has used a speech to deny the regulator is adopting a tougher line by blocking more mergers.
In doing so, Samuel specifically referenced the NAB/AXA AP decision and rejected claims that the ACCC had dragged its feet.
“The ACCC’s timeliness for merger reviews are best practice and are considerably shorter than many other jurisdictions and in particular the European Union, the United States and the United Kingdom,” he said.
“In NAB/AXA the review was undertaken and decision reached within the ACCC’s usual timelines,” he said and suggested that the matter had largely been in the hands of the parties, particularly NAB.
“The original decision to oppose was made on 19 April,” Samuel said. “Subsequent to the decision, NAB approached the ACCC and indicated that it wished to consider the possibility of offering undertakings to alleviate the ACCC’s concerns.”
“The undertaking process was in the hands of NAB and AXA,” he said. “The ACCC did not have an undertaking capable of being consulted upon until 9 August and the decision on the undertaking was made in less than five weeks, including a two week public consultation period.”