The Commerce Commission today cleared Westpac Holdings New Zealand Ltd to acquire all of the shares of Trust Bank New Zealand Ltd.

Commission Deputy Chairman Peter Allport said that if the proposed acquisition went ahead, Westpac would not acquire or strengthen a dominant position in any market.

Westpac and Trust Bank currently account for 15 percent and 10 percent respectively of bank net loans and advances.

A merged Westpac/Trust Bank would be only slightly larger than its largest competitor, the Bank of New Zealand. Two other major banks, the ANZ Banking Group and the National Bank of New Zealand would also continue to compete. There would be further competition from two somewhat smaller banks with extensive branch networks, ASB Bank and Countrywide Bank. Several other banks with less extensive branch networks also compete in the market.

"In our view, the competition for banking services provided by the other existing participants would remain vigorous," Mr Allport said.

"If Westpac did not continue to provide satisfactory services to its clients, its competitors would be able and likely to quickly fill in any gaps which emerged."

Media contact:Communications Officer Vincent Cholewa

Phone work (04) 498 0920, home (04) 479 1432