NAB's renewed Axa push, Westpac's kickboxer.
1. NAB eyes North sale - BNZ's parent National Australia Bank is talking to possible buyers of Axa Asia Pacific Holdings’s North platform, an internet portal offering investment and pension products, as it strives to secure ACCC approval to buy the investment manager, Bloomberg News reports. Such a sale might let NAB buy the rest of Axa Asia Pacific’s Australian operations, making it Australia's biggest pension fund manager. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission blocked the initial deal last month.
2. Frozen funds double standards? - Wealthy ANZ Private Bank customers were encouraged to exit the bank's now frozen ING funds at the same time retail investors were told to stay, Rob Stock reports in The Sunday Star-Times. Frozen in March 2008, the ING Regular Income and Diversified Yield funds locked in more than NZ$400 million of investors' money. Unit prices continued to slide and eventually falling by more than 80%. ING and ANZ have, however, since compensated investors for some of their losses. Nonetheless in a banking ombudsman judgement obtained by the SST, the ombudsman acknowledges the bank was giving different advice to its wealthy and ordinary customers.
3. CBA's big SME push - ASB's parent, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, has grown small business lending at nearly 10 times the rate of its rivals but is warning growing competition could hit margins, The Australian reports. CBA's small business book, which covers loans valued below A$2 million, is now worth A$25 billion and spread across 130,000 customers. The bank's small business lending rose by 8.3% over the last year. This compares with just 0.3% for the overall small business market, traditionally dominated by ANZ and BNZ's parent National Australia Bank. CBA currently offers an interest rate of 7.86% for a small business residential-secured loan, compared with NAB's 8.68%, Westpac's 8.69% and ANZ's 9.12%, the newspaper reports.
4. Westpac's kickboxer- Westpac staffer Sarah Rankin, from Te Puke will travel to Thailand next month to compete in reality US-produced TV show Tuff Girls, The NZ Herald reports. The 23-year-old was chosen from hundreds of kickboxers to take part in the show, marketed as the female equivalent to boxing show The Contender.
5. Profit for NZF - NZF Group has posted an annual profit from trading operations of NZ$3.4 million compared to a NZ$4.8 million loss last year. NZF said the bottom line was boosted by strong returns to profit by its home loans and property finance divisions. The firm won't, however, pay a dividend.
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