CBA Count takeover cleared despite Russell reservations

by Adam Smith18 Nov 2011

The ACCC has approved CBA's takeover of Count Financial, while noting it will significantly enhance the bank's presence in the mortgage broking sector.

CBA launched its takeover bid for Count - which owns a 17% stake in Mortgage Choice - in September. Mortgage Choice chief executive Michael Russell previously told Australian BrokerNews the company wanted CBA to offload this stake should the deal go ahead.

However, an ACCC spokesperson told Australian BrokerNews the regulator's decision did not require CBA to make any divestments. ACCC chair Rod Sims argued that CBA would continue to have competition within the mortgage broking industry after the deal.

"The ACCC noted that the acquisition would increase CBA's presence in the supply of financial planning services and mortgage referral services. This could potentially have reduced competition in the supply of these services and increased the ability of CBA to direct business to its upstream investment and mortgage related products. However, the ACCC was satisfied that CBA would continue to be constrained by a number of other significant financial planning dealer groups, mortgage broking firms and investment product providers," Sims said.

Sims indicated that the competition watchdog was satisfied there would not be a "substantial lessening of competition" as a result of the takeover.

At time of publication, Mortgage Choice spokesperson Belinda Williamson told Australian BrokerNews the company was still "working through the decision". "What I can tell you is our customer proposition remains unaffected," she said.

Related stories:

Watchdog set to rule on CBA takeover bid

CBA acquisition not influenced by Mortgage Choice stake

CBA may offload Mortgage Choice