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Bulgaria's DSK Bank gets anti-trust clearance to buy SocGen Expressbank

Author Mario Tanev
Bulgaria's DSK Bank gets anti-trust clearance to buy SocGen Expressbank Author: Flazingo Photos. License: Creative Commons, Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

SOFIA (Bulgaria), December 18 (SeeNews) - Bulgaria's competition regulator said that it has cleared the proposed acquisition of Societe Generale Expressbank and other subsidiaries held by the Bulgarian unit of French banking group Societe Generale by Sofia-based DSK Bank.

"The deal will consolidate DSK Bank's leading position on the local retail banking market, rather than strengthen it," the Commission for Protection of Competition (CPC) said in its decision published on Monday.

Under the deal, DSK Bank, a unit of Hungary's OTP Bank, will acquire indirect control over Societe Generale Expressbank's units Societe Generale Factoring, Sogelease Bulgaria and Regional Urban Development Fund, as well as direct control over insurer Sogelife Bulgaria.

The new banking group will hold a market share of 23.67% in terms of consumer and household deposits, 27.08% regarding mortgages and 38.58% in terms of consumer loans.

In its methodology, the competition regulator has determined 40% market share to be the threshold which makes a deal worrisome regarding competition on the respective market segment.

The new banking group will have a market share of 10-20% on the factoring segment, as DSK Bank is still new to this type of services, CPC said.

In terms of financial leasing, the new group will hold 20-30% of the market.

DSK Bank received preliminary approval for the deal from the Bulgarian National Bank (BNB) last month. The lender also received approval from the Financial Supervision Commission earlier this month to acquire 100% direct and indirect shareholding in insurer Sogelife Bulgaria.

In August, OTP said it has signed agreements to buy majority stakes in the Albanian and Bulgarian units of Societe Generale. In Bulgaria, OTP is  acquiring 99.74% of Societe Generale Expressbank and its subsidiaries, while in Albania it is buying 88.89% of Banka Societe Generale Albania.

The transactions are expected to be closed in the fourth quarter of 2018, OTP said at the time.

DSK Bank was Bulgaria's second largest lender by assets at the end of October, while Societe Generale Expressbank was the seventh biggest, according to central bank data.

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