ANZ has had the sale of its New Zealand UDC Finance business to HNA Group rejected by an investment regulator due to uncertainty surrounding the ownership of the Chinese logistics company.
New Zealand’s Overseas Investment Office knocked back HNA’s application to buy the business for $NZ660 million ($A626 million) on Thursday, because it couldn’t determine who owned and controlled HNA and consequently it failed the legislative test.
The Chinese conglomerate, which owns a 19 per cent stake in airline Virgin Australia, had agreed to buy UDC nearly a year ago but has been under increase scrutiny after a debt-fuelled $US40 billion ($A56 billion) global buying spree.
ANZ NZ chief executive David Hisco said the sale would not proceed unless HNA could overturn the decision.
“We don’t know if HNA will attempt to overturn the decision,” Mr Hisco said in a statement on Thursday.
“If the sale does not proceed, we’ll assess our strategic options regarding the future of UDC.”
Mr Hisco said there was no urgency for a decision about the NZ business, given the strength of ANZ’s capital position following the recent sale of its life insurance arm, and that the company would continue to operate as usual.
“UDC’s focus remains on its core business of financing vehicles and equipment for people and companies across New Zealand,” he said.
“So, it will be business as usual for our staff and customers.”
ANZ said the decision would have no impact on the $A1.5 billion on-market buy back of shares, which was announced on Monday following the completion of the sale of its stake in Shanghai Rural Commercial Bank.
The lenders shares were down 9.5 cents, or 0.3 per cent, $28.965 at 1032 AEDT on Thursday.