ANZ Mulls UDC Finance Float

By Glenn Dyer | More Articles by Glenn Dyer

The ANZ Bank says it will now look at floating its NZ asset finance business UDC after a trade sale to a mystery Chinese company was blocked late last year.

In a statement to the ASX yesterday, ANZ’s New Zealand CEO David Hisco said the bank had received a number of offers for the business but would consider whether floating the business would deliver a better result for stakeholders as part of an ongoing strategic review.

The ANZ’s decision follows the NZ government’s blocking of the $US460 million sale of UDC to HNA, the secretive Chinese company (it owns shares in Virgin Australia) last December.

The proposed sale of UDC, New Zealand’s largest non-bank lender, was agreed with HNA in early 2017 and the bank had counted on the proceeds to boost its capital.

But New Zealand’s Overseas Investment Office (OIO) cited uncertainty over HNA’s ownership structure for the rejection, reflecting mounting international concerns about the aviation-to-shipping group’s transparency and governance.

“The OIO did not determine who the relevant overseas person was from the information provided about ownership and control interests,” the OIO’s deputy chief executive of policy, Lisa Barrett, said in a statement issued last December.

Mr Hisco said the ANZ was now looking at whether an IPO would be in the interests of UDC’s staff and customers, but stressed that ANZ was not in a rush to offload a business that was performing well.

"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," Mr Hisco said.

"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."

UDC, which has been owned by ANZ since 1980, offers car loans, asset finance and other loans.

ANZ last week said it was suspending asset finance loans for retail customers in Australia from April 30 while it reviewed the business.

The sale or float would be the latest in a series under chief executive Shayne Elliott, who has already offloaded ANZ’s superannuation business, some financial planning, consumer credit insurance, and retail and wealth businesses in six Asian countries.

Glenn Dyer

About Glenn Dyer

Glenn Dyer has been a finance journalist and TV producer for more than 40 years. He has worked at Maxwell Newton Publications, Queensland Newspapers, AAP, The Australian Financial Review, The Nine Network and Crikey.

View more articles by Glenn Dyer →