96 percent of mergers cleared within 25 days

The Norwegian Competition Authority received 113 merger notifications in 2023. This is a decrease from the record year 2022. During the same time, however, the Authority has noticed an increased concentration within certain markets such as banking.

Of the received notifications, 108 were approved within 25 days. In other words, 96 percent of all messages are cleared within the statutory deadline of 25 days. Only four percent of the registered mergers and acquisitions needed to be examined more closely, as is shown in the Norwegian Competition Authority’s annual report for 2023.

– This shows that the Competition Authority has an effective merger control. At the same time, it is important that we spend time and resources examining mergers and acquisitions that can significantly impede competition, says Director General Tina Søreide.

Increased bank consolidation

Several banks announced their intention to merge in 2023. Nordea’s acquisition of Danske Bank’s personal customer operations was one of the mergers that needed a more thorough examination, but the Norwegian Competition Authority did not have grounds to intervene in the acquisition.

– We have competition control in Norway to avoid concentrated markets. At the same time, it is only if an acquisition will significantly weaken competition that we have grounds to prohibit it, says Søreide.

Even though the Competition Authority did not find grounds to stop the merger between Nordea and Danske Bank, the Authority believes that competition in the market for banking services could be better.

– The Norwegian Competition Authority is aware that several mergers in one market can increase the risk of coordinated behavior, and in January we submitted remarks to the Finance Markets Report (Finansmarkedsmeldingen) on how the Norwegian Competition Authority views competition in the market for banking services. Measures that can reduce switching costs for consumers and measures that reduce barriers to establishment and expansion will facilitate increased competition in the banking market, says Søreide.