Norway’s DNB, the country’s largest bank, will be allowed to acquire online rival Sbanken, the Norwegian Competition Tribunal (NCT) ruled on Wednesday, overturning an earlier ban.
The Norwegian Competition Authority (NCA) had sought to block the proposed 11.1 billion Norwegian crowns ($1.24 billion) deal- The regulator argued that the deal would hurt customers in the mutual fund market by leading to higher prices for consumers who invest in such funds.
To try to rescue the deal, DNB on Oct. 7 presented amendments to address the NCA’s concerns. But the proposals, which were not made public, failed to change the regulator’s conclusion.
“The NCT has concluded that there was no basis to reject the contemplated acquisition and has consequently repealed the NCA’s decision,” DNB said in a statement.
“Settlement of the offer will take place no later than March 30.”
More than 90% of Sbanken’s shareholders have accepted DNB’s offer, which was backed by the board and management of both banks. The takeover of the online-only Sbanken would increase DNB’s share of the Norwegian mortgage market to an estimated 27% from about 24% while also strengthening its asset management business.
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