Westpac in pole position for Lloyds Australia sale - sources

SYDNEY Wed Oct 9, 2013 3:56am EDT

SYDNEY Oct 9 (Reuters) - Westpac Banking Corp is in pole position to pick up the Australian assets being sold by Lloyds Banking Group, three sources with knowledge of the situation said.

Westpac was set to win the auction after rivals Macquarie Group and a consortium led by Pepper Australia and GE Capital dropped out of the race, according to the sources, who asked not to be identified as they were not authorised to speak publicly about the matter.

Lloyds is selling its corporate loan book, motor and equipment financing businesses in Australia with a face value of A$8.5 billion ($8 billion), other sources previously said. The deal, if successful, will be Westpac's largest acquisition since its 2008 takeover of St George Bank.

Westpac and Lloyds declined to comment when contacted.

A spokeswoman at Macquarie also declined to comment, while Pepper Australia could not be immediately reached for comment.

The sale by Lloyds will herald its eventual exit from Australia. The move is part of a global strategy to cut costs and shrink its international network to refocus on lending in the British domestic market.

A couple walks along the rough surf during sunset at Oahu's North Shore, December 26, 2013. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

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