ACCC OK's Macquarie's Esanda bid

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(Bloomberg) -- Macquarie Group Ltd. was cleared by Australia’s competition regulator to bid for Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd.’s Esanda dealer finance business.

“The combination of existing and potential competitive constraints would be sufficient to prevent a substantial lessening of competition as a result of the possible acquisition,” Rod Sims, chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, said in a statement Thursday.

The decision paves the way for Macquarie to compete for about A$8.3 billion ($6 billion) in lending assets comprising point-of-sale finance, bailment facilities and other Esanda- branded finance offered to motor vehicle dealers. The purchase would build on Chief Executive Officer Nicholas Moore’s strategy to focus on businesses that shelter Macquarie from the boom and bust cycle of investment banking.

Macquarie will face competition from Westpac Banking Corp. and automaker-aligned financiers as well as possible new entrants, the ACCC said.

ANZ, which is looking to shore up capital amid regulatory changes, revealed plans to sell Esanda in May. Its Chief Financial Officer Shayne Elliott said that month the sale could add 20 basis points to common-equity Tier 1 capital.

Macquarie, China’s HNA Group Co. and Pepper Group Ltd. were among bidders for Esanda, people familiar with the process said July 21.