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APRA prepares for new laws granting approval powers for changes in control of superannuation licensees

The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) has released for consultation a draft form and guide for applications to acquire a controlling stake in a registrable superannuation entity (RSE) licensee.

From 5 July, any party seeking to acquire greater than a 15 per cent stake in an RSE licensee must apply to APRA for approval. The new process stems from the passage in April of Treasury Laws Amendment (Improving Accountability and Member Outcomes in Superannuation Measures No. 1) Act 2019, and brings APRA’s change of ownership powers in superannuation in line with the banking and insurance sectors.

Deputy Chair Helen Rowell said APRA actively sought these powers to better protect the interests of superannuation members.

“APRA has held longstanding concerns about the ability of parties to gain control of a superannuation licensee through the 'back door', without meeting the requirements of a stringent approval process,” Mrs Rowell said.

“These concerns were heightened after this loophole contributed to the fraud that precipitated the collapse of Trio Capital in 2009. The closure of this legislative gap will ensure anyone seeking to acquire a substantial stake in an APRA-regulated superannuation licensee is subject to rigorous regulatory scrutiny.”

Before granting approval to a new applicant, APRA must be satisfied the revised ownership structure will not impede the ability of the RSE licensee to meet its obligations under the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993, including by prioritising the best interests of members.

The Change of Control application form seeks information about the applicant, including their motivation in seeking to acquire a stake in the RSE licensee.

The two week consultation period is now open.

Copies of the draft application form and accompanying guide are available on the APRA website here

The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) is the prudential regulator of the financial services industry. It oversees banks, credit unions, building societies, general insurance and reinsurance companies, life insurance, private health insurers, friendly societies, and most members of the superannuation industry. APRA currently supervises institutions holding $6 trillion in assets for Australian depositors, policyholders and superannuation fund members.

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