Message to Big Four Banks – stop buying market share

Some politicians are voicing concern over the recent wave of consolidation

Message to Big Four Banks – stop buying market share

Suncorp’s banking business is being eyed by a number of Australia’s biggest banks, but if any of them were to acquire the $47 billion mortgage loan book, there might be serious repercussions.

The parliamentary standing economics committee is planning to grill each of the four big bank bosses on a number of topics – including what their expansion plans are.

Recent acquisitions have been plentiful and high profile – NAB’s purchase of 86 400 and ANZ chasing ME Bank (which BoQ ended up doing a deal with), are just two recent deals that have created excitement – but now politicians are warning against too much market share going to Australia’s biggest lenders.

“I’ll be asking each of the major banks to rule out buying Suncorp’s regional banking business if it comes up for sale,” Labor’s assistant treasury spokesman Dr Andrew Leigh told The Australian. “I’ll be asking them to commit to not acquiring fintech start-ups merely to protect themselves against healthy competition.”

Lucky first on the block on Thursday are CBA and Westpac, followed by NAB and ANZ on Friday.

Other agendas that will be pushed at the committee include, it would appear, the use of superannuation to help get first homebuyers a start.

“Young Australians are already forced to prioritise superannuation over home ownership, making it harder to save a deposit, and now they’re paying the heavy price of low interest rates causing asset price inflation.” Liberal MP Tim Wilson said to reporters from The Australian.

Who’s on the spot?

The committee will be quizzing two bigwigs from each of the big four.

CBA – Matt Comyn, David Cohen

NAB – Ross McEwan, Shaun Dooley

ANZ – Shayne Elliot, Mark Whelan

Westpac – Peter King, Les Vance

The committee is quizzing lenders just as some commentators are suggesting that consolidation in the Australian lending landscape is inevitable. Speaking to The Australian about consolidation in the local banking market Kees Kwakernaak Fiserv’s ANZ head said, “You get sort of these plateaus then you see another (consolidation) wave again, and that’s happening in a lot of countries and there is no doubt we are going to see that here.”

Competition in the Australian mortgage market

Market share percentage by lender:

CBA                        25.7

Westpac               23

NAB                       14.7

ANZ                        14.3

ING                         2.9

Macquarie           2.9

Bendigo                2.6

The top 10 lenders account for 91% of the market, while the big four take the lion’s share of that market in Australia, with 78.7% of the national total.