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UBS/CS merger: Competition Commission comments to Finma

  • By The Swiss Times
  • 3 November 2023

The Competition Commission (ComCo) has concluded its investigation into the takeover of the major bank CS by its competitor UBS. It has now forwarded its statement to the financial market supervisory authority Finma, as confirmed by a spokesperson for the ComCo. Finma will now “analyze it in detail”.

UBS/CS merger: Competition Commission comments to Finma

In response to a report by the online portal “Tippinpoint”, the ComCo spokesperson said on Friday that it would not be providing any information on the content of the statement it sent to FINMA last week. However, the competition authority will publish its statement as soon as FINMA has made its decision.

Finma would have to decide on the further processes, emphasized the COMCO spokesperson. The authority had to clarify what impact the merger would have on competition and the market situation in Switzerland.

Intensive clarifications

A Finma spokesperson also confirmed receipt of the statement. Apparently, the ComCo has carried out intensive investigations in recent months in connection with the merger of the two big banks: Thorough market clarifications have been carried out and numerous statements from affected competitors, associations and customers have been evaluated. In total, the Competition Commission sent out around 200 questionnaires to market players.

Finma will make an independent decision based on the ComCo decision, the financial market supervisory authority added. However, it would not comment on when it would be informed of the decision.

Finma joins the ComCo

When the emergency takeover of the heavily troubled CS by UBS was announced in March, FINMA President Marlene Amstad had already stated that the financial market regulator had the authority to “override the competitive situation”. Accordingly, FINMA can take the place of the Competition Commission in the assessment under antitrust law if this appears necessary for reasons of creditor protection.

The merger of the two big banks in accordance with the Cartel Act was approved by FINMA ahead of schedule on March 19, 2023. Accordingly, the merger was legally completed on June 12, 2023.

It is doubtful whether Finma will now impose any drastic conditions on the merged UBS. The big bank itself has repeatedly emphasized recently that it is only number three in the Swiss client business behind the cantonal banks and Raiffeisen Switzerland in terms of the number of branches. However, it is likely to have a high market share in business with large corporate clients and institutional investors, for example.

©Keystone/SDA

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