Goldman seeks to buy 100 percent of Australia-NZ joint venture

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Global investment bank Goldman Sachs Group (GS.N: Quote, Profile, Research) is seeking to buy the 55 percent of its Australian and New Zealand joint venture that it does not already own, the company said in a statement on Thursday.

Goldman Sachs, which currently owns 45 percent of the joint venture, said it had commenced a formal process to take its stake in Goldman Sachs & Partners Australia Group Holdings to 100 percent.

The remaining 55 percent is owned by former and existing management and employee shareholders in the joint venture.

The bank’s Australian and New Zealand business has operated as a joint venture since 2003 when Goldman Sachs agreed to buy 45 percent of Australian brokerage JBWere.

Local newspapers said the Australian and New Zealand unit could have a book value of as much as A$1.2 billion ($1.25 billion) although its last set of accounts valued the assets at A$780 million.

The deal needs acceptances from a minimum of 75 percent of shareholders. The joint venture will be fully integrated into Goldman Sachs.

“Australia and New Zealand represent an important part of our growth strategy. This investment underscores our desire to continue to strengthen our Australasian client franchise,” Goldman Sachs Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein said in a statement.

Mergers and acquisitions activity involving Australian companies more than doubled in the first quarter of 2011 to $38.8 billion, according to ThomsonReuters data.

(Reporting by Michael Smith)

Goldman seeks to buy 100 percent of Australia-NZ joint venture