Norway’s largest bank, DNB, plans to acquire Sbanken, formerly Skandiabanken, but the small bank’s customers are protesting mightily. They claim it will destroy competition between the two banks, and that they’ll take their business elsewhere.
The announcement Thursday morning that DNB was offering NOK 11.1 billion for Sbanken set off a storm of objections and criticism on social media. State broadcaster NRK’s commentator called the bid a “good way for DNB to get rid of a troublesome competitor” while also gaining Sbanken’s competence in online banking solutions.
More that 1,500 Sbanken customers posted negative comments about the pending acquisition on Facebook. “I don’t want to have any customer relationship with DNB,” claimed Morten Welde, one of the many objecting to the deal. DNB is known for charging high fees, being among the first to raise interest rates and having problems with its online banking services. Welde said he’d once been a DNB customer and was dissatisfied. “I’m not complaining necessarily to criticize DNB, but rather that I’m very well satisfied with Sbanken,” Welde told NRK. “They have good online banking and low or no fees. It’s a popular bank for good reasons.”
Several Sbanken customers were contacting media outlets to complain about the pending acquisition, which Sbanken’s board is recommending to shareholders. DNB chief executive Kjerstin Braathen claimed the two banks “can do more together than separately and create Norway’s best customer experience, regardless of branch.” Skandiabanken was Norway’s first purely online bank and DNB is keen on buying its innovation.
The acquisition is subject, however, to approval from Norwegian competition authorities. “If we determine that it will hinder competition we have an opportunity to stop the purchase,” Gjermund Nese of Konkurransetilsynet told NRK.