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ANZ’s Suncorp takeover shows nothing changes in Australian banking

The merger, if it gets through the competition regulators, underlines the fact that nothing matters more in Australian banking than mortgages.

Photo: Reuters

ANZ’s purchase of the banking arm of Suncorp Group for A$4.9 billion reminds us that Australian banking is, in essence, a simple game: align yourself to the national love of property and watch the money flood in.

From time to time, a Big Four Australian bank will flirt with something daring such as, say, a strategy in cross-border institutional business. But generally, whatever innovation these ideas bring is drowned out by the moaning of analysts and investors that banks should keep it fastidiously, tediously simple.

ANZ is, by most metrics, the smallest of Australia’s Big Four, behind Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA), Westpac and National Australia Bank. The new deal, which will involve acquiring A$47 billion of home loans, A$45 billion in deposits and A$11 billion in commercial loans, will elevate ANZ to third place in housing lending and housing deposits, ahead of NAB, while bringing it close to equal third with Westpac on business lending. It will increase ANZ’s customer base by 20%, home loans by 17%, retail deposits 22% and SME loans 20%.

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