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$2bn AMP Life sale to Resolution now “highly unlikely”

15th July 2019 - Author: Charlie Wood

Financial services firm AMP says it’s “highly unlikely” the previously-announced sale of its life businesses to Resolution Life will go ahead on the current terms, due to challenges in meeting the condition precedent for Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) approval.

AMP logoThis condition requires RBNZ approval on a change of control for AMP Life in a form consistent with the current branch structure.

Resolution notified AMP on July 13 that RBNZ would not consider its change of control application unless it agreed to have separate, ringfenced assets held in New Zealand for the benefit of New Zealand policyholders, which is inconsistent with the current branch structure.

As a result, Resolution does not expect RBNZ to approve an application that would satisfy the condition precedent.

AMP believes that this reflects RBNZ’s position and that addressing these requirements would adversely impact the commercial return of the sale for both AMP and Resolution Life.

AMP has called the development exceptionally disappointing, because the sale of its life businesses had been considered a foundational element of its strategy.

AMP Limited today advises that the transaction for the sale of AMP Life (the Australian and New Zealand wealth protection and mature businesses) to Resolution Life is highly unlikely to proceed on the current terms due to the challenges in meeting the condition precedent for Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) approval.

Recognising that the transaction is unlikely to proceed in its current form, AMP is now working with Resolution to determine whether there is a solution that addresses policyholder interests, regulatory requirements and provides certainty of execution.

This will require negotiation of new terms and is not certain.

The interests of policyholders, both in New Zealand and Australia, have been and will continue to be paramount.

While the earnings impacts since 30 June 2018 from unwinding the risk sharing agreement in the current transaction are not substantial, AMP says the long-term valuation effect would have a more significant influence on any future price negotiation.

AMP’s board will review any revised transaction to determine if it is in the best interests of policyholders, the company and its shareholders.

If a revised transaction cannot be achieved on acceptable terms, AMP will retain AMP Life and manage it as a specialist life insurance and mature business with a focus on policyholder outcomes, cost and capital efficiency.

While the 1H 19 accounts are yet to be finalised, AMP expects to report a Level 3 eligible capital surplus above minimum regulatory requirements and in line with Board limits for target capital surplus.

Given the uncertainty around the AMP Life transaction, the AMP Board expects to continue its prudent approach to capital management and anticipates that an interim dividend will not be paid for 1H 19.

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