Norway’s competition authority (Konkurransetilsynet) announced Thursday that it may halt the takeover by Norway’s biggest bank, DNB, of its small but innovative rival Sbanken. DNB has already secured the purchase of most of Sbanken’s shares, but the authorities fear it will hurt competition.
“After a thorough evaluation of this acquisition, we’ve decided that we need to look further at the effect this will have on the market,” stated Gjermund Nese of Konkurransetilsynet. He’s especialy worried about those saving money through investment funds, because DNB combined with Sbanken could quickly dominate the market.
DNB’s announcement that it was keen on taking over Sbanken set off howls of protest from loyal Sbanken customers, many of who had earlier been customers of DNB and intentionally sought a better deal elsewhere. DNB has often scored low on customer-friendliness and is known for charging high fees on most services.
It’s the fees attached to investment funds that worry Konkurransetilsynet the most, while Sbanken’s customers have banded together to preserve their bank as the low-cost online provider they’ve come to love as an alternative to the bigger banks. A DNB spokesman claimed that he and his colleagues don’t view the competition authority’s concerns as “very dramatic” and will await its ongoing investigation.