Allens Arthur Robinson and Freehills have orchestrated the sale of Aviva Australia Holdings Ltd to the National Australia Bank (NAB).
Allens acted for Aviva plc, one of the world’s largest insurance groups, on the transaction, which is subject to approval by the ACCC and APRA. Freehills represented the NAB.
The deal includes the sale of the Australian life insurance operations and wealth management platform Navigator, and is valued at $825 million. Agreement was reached on 21 June, and prior to completion Aviva Australia Holdings will pay a $40 million dividend to its parent.
Craig Henderson, who headed the Allens team, said the deal was unusual because the firm dealt with multiple bidders throughout the process.
“Normally, at some stage in the process you would select a preferred bidder and negotiate exclusively with that party,” he said.
“In this instance, we were required to work closely with Aviva and negotiate all the documentation for multiple bidders. Therefore, it was an intensive process, however one that achieved the best result possible for Aviva.”
He added that the technique, which maintained “auction tension” until the last minute, was a major factor in Aviva’s successful result and would “probably be replicated where possible”.
“The deal is also significant as it provides evidence of the relative resilience of Australia's financial services industry,” Henderson said.
“The level of interest that the sale attracted, and the price obtained, demonstrated that M&A activity in the financial services sector in Australia is still a real possibility, notwithstanding the battering that the sector has taken globally.
“In many other countries, a seller of an asset of this nature would be hard pressed to receive full value.”
Allens partner Robert Simkiss and senior lawyers Christine Swan and Toby Woods, worked with Henderson on the deal.
Partner Mark Crean led Freehills’ team on the transaction, working with Justin O’Farrell and David Cooper, and senior associates Mark Currell, Robert Bileckij and Sarah Yu.
The complexity and speed of the transaction necessitated cross-practice group cooperation involving lawyers from the firm’s corporate, financial services, IT, employee relations, competition, property and litigation practice areas.
Goldman Sachs JBWere led the advisory, KPMG provided accounting advice and Deloitte provided tax advice on the transaction.