High time to buy

Grow quick or perish. The latest deals have sent Australia''s big banks scurrying for takeover targets. But they don''t have many to choose from.

The recent acquisition of funds manager MLC by National Australia Bank NAB, one of Australia's largest banks, has created some reluctant victims.

First are the banking analysts. They have been fielding calls from journalists asking what impact the deal will have on the country's financial services industry. It's getting out of hand, complains one analyst, referring not to takeovers but the number of calls he has received.

Second are the other leading banks. The impact of the deal, to the analyst, is blindingly obvious. Westpac and ANZ, the smaller banks among the big four in Australia, will now be scurrying for takeover targets.

Size matters

Australia has a so-called four-pillar policy that...

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