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NAB faces international identity crisis

Frank Cicutto

Australia's largest domestic bank is struggling to establish a place for itself on the world stage. National Australia Bank (NAB) is presently the largest foreign acquirer in the UK domestic market. However its plans for UK expansion have suffered a setback after losses with its US mortgage-servicing subsidiary, HomeSide.

NAB is an experienced acquirer in the UK, with a positive track record. Mike Macrow, bank analyst at Salomon Smith Barney in Melbourne, says: "Their track record has been reasonable in that most of the things they've bought are worth a lot more now than their acquisition prices."

In 1987, NAB acquired Clydesdale Bank in Scotland and Northern Bank in Northern Ireland. These were followed by the acquisition of Yorkshire Bank three years later.

Analysts say the performance of these regional banks has been quite good, but NAB still lacks a presence in the larger southern England market.

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