ASX bank shares surge after NAB (ASX:NAB) gets green light to sell MLC

National Australia Bank Ltd (ASX: NAB) has received the green light to sell its MLC division, sparking a rally in ASX bank shares today.

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The S&P/ASX 200 Index (ASX: XJO) is having yet another day in the green so far. At the time of writing, the ASX 200 has opened higher and is up 0.45% to 6,672.5 points.

And ASX banking shares are behind much of these gains.

Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX: CBA) shares are up 1.37% to $83.52 this morning, a new post-March high.

Westpac Banking Corp (ASX: WBC) shares are up 0.55% to $20.06, while Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd (ASX: ANZ) shares are up 1.31% to $23.24.

National Australia Bank Ltd (ASX: NAB) shares are also joining the party. The NAB share price is up 0.69% to $23.58 at the time of writing.

It’s possible we have NAB to thank for these moves today, as NAB (now the second-largest ASX bank on the ASX 200) received some welcome news this morning.

NAB offloads MLC

According to reporting in the Australian Financial Review (AFR), NAB has received the green light from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to sell its MLC wealth management business to IOOF Holdings Limited (ASX: IFL).

This sale first hit the news back in late August, with NAB announcing it had come to an agreement with IOOF to sell MLC in its entirety, for a price of $1.44 billion.

At the time, NAB CEO Ross McEwan said the following on why the bank was offloading MLC:

The sale of MLC will enable NAB to prioritise investment and focus on executing our refreshed strategy of delivering simpler, more streamlined products and processes for our customers and colleagues. NAB has taken a disciplined approach over the past two years to transform the business and prepare it for exit.

MLC is a company that provides financial advice and planning, investments, and superannuation services. It has been under NAB’s umbrella since 2000.

According to the AFR, ACCC commissioner Stephen Ridgeway said the following on the decision:

Transactions that combine two major firms in a sector will attract close scrutiny from the ACCC… However, feedback from customers, financial advisers and other industry participants suggested that this deal would not be likely to substantially lessen competition.

NAB isn’t the only bank that’s been offloading assets recently. Just last week, we heard that Westpac was selling its Pacific operations for $420 million.

And earlier in the year, we also learnt that CommBank had finalised its plans to sell a 55% stake in its Colonial First State wealth management business to private equity firm KKR for $1.7 billion.

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Motley Fool contributor Sebastian Bowen owns shares of National Australia Bank Limited. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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