With AMP set to announce its full-year results in February, the wealth giant is under pressure to announce that anybody other than Ares is interested in its beleaguered businesses.
AMP’s decision to announce that private equity giant Ares was interested in buying the whole thing, scandals and plummeting adviser numbers be damned, was clearly an attempt to drum up interest. With the wealth giant’s full-year results fast approaching, the pressure is now on for chair Debra Hazelton and chief executive Francesco De Ferrari to announce a host of suitors for the beleaguered business.
That seems unlikely.
AMP Capital remains the only business unit to generate substantial interest, though it’s likely a couple of bargain hunters have kicked the tyres over at Bank and North. Ares’ offer was so significant precisely because it was unusual. Not everybody is entirely convinced of course – EL&C Baillieu said that a competitive process “is not out of the question” – but the problem remains that, due to the virtues of vertical integration, many of AMP’s businesses are tied up in a kind of Gordian Knot. Nobody wants to have to go to the trouble of actually cutting it.
Of course, it’s not impossible that there should be some eleventh-hour offer. It’s just not clear where that would come from. Most of the usual suspects have plenty of recent acquisitions to keep them occupied, and the Australian wealth market is now becoming so consolidated that any more big purchases would likely trigger a bit of interest from the ACCC.
The bank might generate a bit more interest. Rumours swirl that Bank of Queensland might try and get in on Ares’ bid or the inevitable fire sale, and AMP Bank managing director Rod Finch’s decision to jump ship gives some credence to those rumours.
More likely than not, Ares’ offer is the only one on the table. AMP – and its long-suffering shareholders – may have to take it or leave it.
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