Will the Norwegian Competition Authority stop DNB’s acquisition of Sbanken?

DNBPhoto: Håkon Mosvold Larsen / NTB

The Norwegian Competition Authority believes that DNB’s acquisition of Sbanken could weaken competition in the market for savings in funds. Thus, they are considering stopping the acquisition.

“This could lead to higher prices and be detrimental to Norwegian consumers,” the Norwegian Competition Authority wrote in a press release.

On April 15, it became known that DNB wanted to buy Sbanken. Last week, it was announced that DNB has now secured 90.9% of the shares in Sbanken at NOK 108.85 per share. 

In addition to approval from the Norwegian Competition Authority, the Ministry of Finance must also approve the acquisition.

Further investigations

“The banking market is a large and important market for Norwegian consumers, and DNB’s acquisition of Sbanken is one of the largest acquisitions in the market in many years. Based on preliminary analyzes, the Authority has concluded that further investigations are necessary before a final decision can be made on whether the acquisition should be permitted,” department director Gjermund Nese in the Norwegian Competition Authority noted.

The Norwegian Competition Authority’s task in all merger and acquisition cases is to find out whether the acquisition will reduce competition in the market and harm consumers through, for example, higher prices and poorer services.

“The Norwegian Competition Authority will now continue analyzing the effects the acquisition will have on competition in the market for fund savings. If we conclude that there is reason to fear that, for example, it will be more expensive for Norwegian consumers to save in funds, we will consider stopping the acquisition,” Nese warned.

New deadline August 26

In a stock exchange announcement on Thursday morning, DNB wrote that they are satisfied that the Norwegian Competition Authority has confirmed that the possible competition concerns are only related to saving in funds and not mortgages or other banking services that constitute the most significant part of the company’s activities.

DNB further noted that they “would continue to work closely with the Norwegian Competition Authority and provide all relevant information in order to get the transaction approved as soon as possible.”

Sbanken was established in 2000 as the first purely digital bank in Norway and was listed on the Oslo Stock Exchange in 2015. The company became an independent Norwegian bank in the autumn of 2015, but until then was a subsidiary of the Swedish Skandiabanken.

The Authority now has until August 26 to either allow the acquisition or send a new notification to DNB and Sbanken that it plans to stop the acquisition. The final deadline in the case is October 7, 2021.

Source: © NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today / #NorwayTodayFinance

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