(Bloomberg) — Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. has narrowed the list of bidders for its wealth unit, which could fetch more than $4 billion in Australian dollars, or $3 billion in U.S. dollars, people with knowledge of the matter said.
The Melbourne-based bank has invited AIA Group Ltd., MetLife Inc. and Zurich Insurance Group AG to make second-round offers for the business by Sept. 15, according to the people. Shortlisted bidders will now conduct detailed due diligence and hold meetings with the unit’s management, the people said, asking not to be identified because the details are private.
ANZ is divesting its wealth arm, which includes life insurance operations and fund management, as part of a plan to sell legacy assets and focus on its core business. The bank sold its fleet finance operations and its stake in Shanghai Rural Commercial Bank Co. this year, after disposing of other retail and wealth-management businesses in Asia in 2016.
The sale process is going well, and the bank will reduce the number of bidders from as many as five to “two or three,” Chief Executive Officer Shayne Elliott said in an interview Tuesday in Singapore. He didn’t identify any of the suitors.
“By the end of this calendar year, we should be able to announce who we’re going into partnership with and then it will be a very complicated two-year transition,” Elliott said.
Shares of ANZ have risen 25% in Sydney trading over the past year, giving it a market value of about $64 billion in U.S. dollars. A spokesman for ANZ declined to comment on the identity of the bidders. Representatives for AIA, MetLife and Zurich also declined to comment. The Australian Financial Review reported the shortlisted bidders earlier, citing unidentified people.
The decision on who buys ANZ’s wealth unit won’t be a matter of simply picking the highest offer, Elliott said, noting all of the bidders had taken slightly different approaches. The bank expects to continue to distribute life insurance, he said.