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Aussie bank to target A&L for 2002 takeover

Three leading City analysts are tipping Alliance & Leicester as an

acquisition target for Nat-ional Australia Bank once the UK bank&#39s takeover

protection clause expires next April.

The UK&#39s sixth-biggest mortgage lender has emerged as the market favourite

to be snapped up by NAB, which is on a UK acquisition trail.

Banking analysts claim A&L is not financially strong enough to compete in

the current ultra-low-margin environment.

One analyst says A&L&#39s “mediocre” results this year, combined with the

diminishing number of takeover prospects in the UK, make it a natural

target for NAB.

Another suggests that NAB may also be considering a bid for Bradford &

Bingley but believes that A&L is the more likely target as it has better

synergies with the Australian bank.

NAB already owns Yorkshire, Clydesdale and National Irish Banks and has

made no secret of its desire to establish a bigger presence in the UK

market.

A third analyst says: “A&L is the most obvious target for NAB and it needs

to do a deal. A&L has diversified into a number of areas which would

overlap with NAB plus its formal protection ends in April.”

A NAB spokesman says: “We have identified the UK as an area for growth and

we are keeping an eye on any potential acquisitions.”

An A&L spokesman says: “We do not comment on speculation but the chairman

has repeatedly said we wish to remain independent.”

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