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Private banks eye Australia for acquisitions

Private banks across the globe are reported to be turning to Australia for potential new acquisitions.

Takeovers in the banking sector have reached record levels, as international private banks hunt for new targets in emerging markets like China and India, as well as Australia.

Research conducted by accounting and advisory group KPMG found that eight out of the 147 private banks it interviewed claimed to be examining possible targets in Australia, on a par with the number looking at potential acquisitions in Brazil.

A third of the banks polled reported that they planned to spend between $250 million and $1 billion over the next three years on acquisitions, with China and India named as the top countries for investment and the pace of consolidation unlikely to slow in the near future.

As Asia Pacific economies grow rapidly, the private banking sector booms, with record levels of merger and acquisitions worldwide and a total of 45 per cent of all deals in 2005 took place in the region.

Kevin Chamberlain, partner in KPMG Transaction Services, said: "The explosion of corporate activity in private banking is the result of a perfect alignment of contributing factors. There has been an explosion of personal wealth, particularly in Asia, continuing growth in private banking revenues and regulatory pressures benefiting economies of scale."

The KPMG survey, Hungry for More; Acquisition appetite and strategy in the global private banking and wealth management industry, discovered that 258 deals were completed globally last year, an 80 per cent increase on 2004.