ANZ has appointed Flagstaff Partners to help with the sale of its trustee unit.

ANZ has appointed Flagstaff Partners to help with the sale of its trustee unit. Photo: Ken Irwin

ANZ has appointed boutique advisory firm Flagstaff Partners to ramp up the sale of its trustee unit, in an attempt to capitalise on attractive valuations in the sector.

Final bids for the unit are due at the end of March, in a sale that may fetch more than $120 million, sources told Fairfax Media. An ANZ spokesman on Monday declined to comment on the slated sale.

The appointment of Flagstaff is interesting as former ANZ chairman Charles Goode now chairs Flagstaff. The Melbourne-based company also advised The Trust Company on its takeover defence, which last year erupted into a bidding war between Perpetual, IOOF Holdings and Equity Trustees. Perpetual eventually elbowed aside its rivals, but had to pay a hefty $280 million to acquire Trust Co.

ANZ started considering a sale of its own trustee business about 10 months ago as demand for such assets was going through the roof.

ANZ Trustees sits under the bank's wealth division headed by Joyce Phillips. The unit is thought to have earnings of about $10 million a year. If the multiples paid for The Trust Company are applied, the unit could be auctioned for more than $120 million.

Pre-acquisition synergies, Perpetual's purchase of Trust Co was done at 21 times the target's earnings, that drops to about 12 times post synergies.

Other parties that may run a ruler over the ANZ unit include Sandhurst Trustee, owned by Bendigo and Adelaide Bank, registry business Computershare or private equity firm Archer Capital.

Industry players suggested Perpetual may have to again make a submission to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission if it makes it through the ANZ Trustee bidding process. Perpetual is the largest player in the sector.

In a report last year, IBISWorld estimated the industry's annual revenue at $452 million, and noted that in 2012 ANZ held 5.2 per cent of the trustee market, when state-owned trustees were included.

Players in the industry are jostling for assets or conversely are considering opting out as they may lack the scale.

''IOOF and EQT [Equity Trustees] are the logical acquirers if the ANZ business is spun out,'' Commonwealth Bank of Australia analyst Ross Curran said.

As part of the Perpetual tilt at Trust Co, IOOF emerged with a stake in rival Equity Trustees, also creating tension. A strong rally in Equity Trustees' share price has warded against any takeover moves.

But IOOF, which owns Australian Executor Trustees, is understood to have a keen eye on acquisitions.

IOOF declined to comment on Monday, as did Perpetual and Bendigo and Adelaide Bank. Equity Trustees did not return calls seeking comment.