WELLINGTON, New Zealand - The New Zealand Commerce Commission, the country's antitrust authority, cleared National Australia Bank Ltd. to complete its proposed takeover of Bank of New Zealand.

The commission said the deal would not jeopardize effective bank competition. Though the two institutions would control 24% of the bank loan market, "competition from other registered banks, the low barriers to entry, and the low barriers to expansion by registered banks will ensure that effective competition is maintained," the commission said.

The New Zealand bank's major shareholders - the government, with 57.7%, and Fay Richwhite & Co., with 27% - have accepted National Australia's offer, equivalent to $1.1 billion.

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