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Suncorp looks to future as ‘pureplay’ insurance company 

Suncorp has welcomed an Australian Competition Tribunal decision that opens the way for it to sell its banking division and become a company solely focused on insurance. 

Group CEO Steve Johnston says the decision comes at a time when the value of insurance and the need for continued investment in a vibrant private insurance sector has never been greater. 

“Our ability to meet the rapidly evolving needs of insurance customers and address increasingly complex challenges such as climate change and affordability will be significantly strengthened through dedicated investment as a pureplay insurance company,” he said.

As reported in a Breaking News bulletin this morning, the tribunal today overturned an Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) decision to block the proposed $4.9 billion sale of the bank to ANZ. Both companies lodged appeals against the commission's ruling. 

The sale remains subject to amendment of the Queensland State Financial Institutions and Metway Merger Act and final approval from the Federal Treasurer, but Suncorp says if green-lit the deal is expected to be completed about the middle of this year. 

Suncorp Chairman Christine McLoughlin says the decision reflects the importance of strong, sustainable insurance and banking systems equipped to meet the changing needs of customers, communities and the broader economy. 

Brisbane-based Suncorp and Melbourne-headquartered ANZ have announced significant jobs and investment packages directed at Queensland in seeking support for the sale.  

“Suncorp’s package, worth about $25 million, will not only bring continued investment and jobs in the state of Queensland, but through further investment in our end-to-end disaster management capability and natural hazard resilience initiatives, will bring benefits to customers and communities right across Australia and New Zealand,” Ms McLoughlin said. 

Suncorp announced the proposed bank sale in July 2022, but the ACCC blocked the transaction after raising concerns over impacts in the home loan, SME and agribusiness banking markets. It was also not convinced of the likely public interest benefits, including from Suncorp focusing on insurance. 

But the tribunal has cleared the deal in all three banking market areas, and has backed the arguments of ANZ and Suncorp on the public interest considerations. 

“The tribunal is satisfied that the forecast integration and production efficiencies from the proposed acquisition constitute real and tangible benefits to the public, represent a saving of real resources, and are likely to be sustained,” the decision released this morning said. 

ANZ CEO Shayne Elliott says the company “strongly believes” the acquisition presents significant opportunities for ANZ, Suncorp Bank and customers, plus major public benefits, including for Queensland. 

“This is a significant milestone and an important step forward in the process. However, we still have further conditions to meet,” he said. “We remain committed to completing the acquisition as soon as possible once all sale conditions are met.”