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The Deal: Lloyds Offloads Remaining Australian Assets

LONDON (The Deal) -- Australia's Westpac Banking has prevailed in the auction for Lloyds Banking Group's (LYG) last remaining Australian operations, agreeing to pay A$1.55 billion ($1.47 billion) for assets with a face value of close to six times that amount.

Westpac will acquire Lloyds' asset finance business, Capital Finance Australia Ltd., and its corporate portfolio, BOS International Australia Ltd. This includes a motor vehicle book with a face value of A$3.9 billion, an equipment finance book of A$2.9 billion and a corporate loan portfolio of A$1.6 billion, the Australian buyer said Friday, Oct. 11.

"This is a value creating, straightforward transaction that makes both commercial and strategic sense," said Westpac CEO Gail Kelly in a statement.

The bank said the acquisitions should boost earnings by A$100 million by 2015.

Other participants in the auction had included Macquarie Group Ltd., Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd., a consortium led by nonbank lender Pepper Australia Pty Ltd., and GE Capital, though several high-profile bidders dropped out before the final round.

Lloyds, of London, put the total assets changing hands at A$8.8 billion, noting that they made a profit of 80 million pounds ($127.9 million) last year. The "base" price is A$1.45 billion, it said, while it will receive another A$100 million to reflect the market value of associated derivatives contracts. It is also in line for a A$100 million pre-completion payout from the operations.

Lloyds, which is almost 33% owned by the U.K. government, has been slashing assets since soon after a January 2009 state bailout.

"The sale is in line with the group's strategy of focusing on the U.K., rationalizing its international presence and ensuring best value for shareholders," said Lloyds, which said it will use the 20 million pounds proceeds from the sale for general corporate purposes.

The deal will boost Lloyds' core Tier One capital ratio by 20 basis points, it said.

A Gilbert + Tobin team led by Peter Cook and Gina Cass-Gottlieb, and including David Clee, Elizabeth Avery, Ros O'Mally, Duncan McGrath and Peter Feros advised Westpac.

The companies expect the transaction to close by year-end. It isn't subject to regulatory approvals, though Westpac said it is co-operating with what it described as an informal Australian merger investigation by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

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