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Bank fusion may be stopped

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The Norwegian Competition Authority does not like the idea of a merge between banks DnB and Gjensidige Nor and tries to stop the plans. DnB chief Svein Aaser (picture) is not happy.

The Norwegian Competition Authority has been sceptical towards the plans of a merge for a long time, the reason being that the new company, DnBNor would get a massive market power, especially on loans for both individuals and businesses.

Half the market

According to the Competition Authority the merged banks would control 36 percent of Norway's personal customer market. In the eastern parts of the country they would control as much as 50 percent of the market, including life insurances and payment procurements.

"A fusion between DnB and Gjensidige Nor could lead to a considerable restraint of competition", said head of the Competition Authority, Knut Eggum Johansen.

The Norwegian Competition Authority sent a 50 page long letter to the banks today, explaining that the merge may be stopped.

DnB and Gjensidige Nor will be able to give feedback by 19 September.

Have to take actions

Knut Eggum Johansen appeals to the banks to make them suggest possible actions that might make it easier for the Competition Authority to accept the merge.

Johansen did not want to comment on how drastic these actions need to be.

The Competition Authority is worried that DnB will focus on existing customers rather than trying to get new customers.

"Our main worry is the customers' opportunity to get good and cheap loans", said Johansen.

DnB and Gjensidige Nor are both annoyed with the conclusion from the Competition Authorities so far:

"This is the last opportunity to create a Norwegian based financial institution that can resist the Nordic competition in the finance sector, and that will be significant enough to ensure that important decisions affecting Norwegian businesses and households will still be made in Norway", said the banks in a press release, clearly aimed at Norwegian politicians.

The banks have three months before the final verdict. The banks will be able to appeal the decision.

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