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ANZ puts OnePath on the block

[UPDATED] Another big Australian-owned New Zealand life insurance business may sell.

Thursday, March 8th 2018, 9:00AM

ANZ is considering interest in its New Zealand life insurance division, OnePath Life (NZ), after the sale of its business in Australia brought forward potential buyers for the unit on this side of the Tasman, too.

The bank told staff it was dealing with a small number of parties to “test their appetite” for buying the business.

OnePath in Australia sold for A$2.85 billion ($3.05b) to Zurich Financial Services.

It had been speculated that the New Zealand business could be worth up to A$900 million. It recorded a $32.3m profit in the year to September 2017.

It has already sold off its health insurance business to nib for $24.7m.

"While we’re happy with how our business is performing and have plans for its development, we have decided to engage with a small number of parties to see what value they might add to the business," an ANZ spokesman said.

"This process might not result in a sale, but we owe it to the business and our customers to assess what will deliver the best performance for them.

"Insurance is a core part of ANZ’s business, and this will continue irrespective of any decision on who manufactures our life insurance products."

The bank tried to sell UDC Finance to Chinese buyers HNA Group but the deal was not approved by the Overseas Investment Office.

The move comes despite chief executive David Hisco saying as recently as late last year that the bank was not planning to sell OnePath in New Zealand.

"Our New Zealand insurance business has strong fundamentals and we have clear plans to pursue future growth," he said in November.

He said the New Zealand business was different to the Australian operations, and the local arm generated a good return for the bank.

Tags: ANZ

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