The European Commission has accepted requests submitted by Austria, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden and the UK to assess under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of Nets A/S account-to-account payment business by Mastercard.
Nets account-to-account payment business is a division of Nets that offers core infrastructure services for account-to-account payment schemes (“A2A CIS”). The proposed acquisition, announced in August 2019, does not reach the turnover thresholds set by the EU Merger Regulation for transactions that must be notified to the European Commission because they have an EU dimension.
It was notified for regulatory clearance in Denmark and Norway and it was also notified in the UK. Denmark submitted a referral request to the Commission pursuant to Article 22(1) of the EU Merger Regulation. This provision allows Member States to request that the Commission examine a concentration that does not have an EU dimension but affects trade within the single market and threatens to significantly affect competition within the territory of the Member States making the request.
Subsequently, Austria, Finland, Norway, Sweden and the UK joined Denmark’s referral request. On the basis of the information provided by Denmark and the countries joining the referral request, and without prejudice to the outcome of its full investigation, the Commission considers that the transaction threatens to significantly affect competition in a broader plausible Nordic or EEA/UK-wide market for the provision of A2A CIS.
The Commission also concluded that it is best placed to examine the potential cross-border effects of the transaction. The European Commission will now ask Mastercard to notify the transaction.
Mastercard said on Monday that it hopes to complete its acquisition of Nets before the end of Q2 2020 despite scrutiny of the deal by the European Commission at the request of six countries.
Mastercard said it disagreed with the Commission’s view that the deal could have an adverse effect on competition in the UK or any EU country and has been working with the EU antitrust watchdog to expedite the merger review.