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Antitrust Office clears Istrobanka/KBC merger

The Slovak Antitrust Office (PMÚ) has cleared the sale of Istrobanka to Belgian group KBC.

The Slovak Antitrust Office (PMÚ) has cleared the sale of Istrobanka to Belgian group KBC.

KBC agreed on the purchase of the Slovak bank with Austrian firm Bawag in the second half of March 2008. The concentration neither creates nor boosts KBC's dominant position on the Slovak market, according to the regulator.

KBC is present in Slovakia through ČSOB Bank, which, together with Istrobanka, will move into fourth position on the market following the merger.

The Antitrust Office reported that the combined portion of parties involved in the transaction for the last year will not exceed 10 to 20 percent on the market of deposit services when the merger takes place. As for credit services, the market share will not climb above 10 to 20 percent, while the portion in the market of issuance of debit and credit cards will not climb above 5 to 10 percent. Regarding the volume of assets, the combined share of the parties involved will represent roughly 10 percent of overall assets of banks operating in Slovakia.

In early May 2008, ČSOB and Istrobanka announced that they would probably operate separately on the Slovak market this year. The two banks' representatives estimate that the process of merging and rebranding will take place no sooner than in early 2009. ČSOB expects closing of the sale in Q3 2008 at the latest. The name of the new bank remains to be seen.

ČSOB operated in Slovakia last year as a branch of a foreign bank, but has been functioning as an independent bank since 2008. The KBC group became ČSOB's majority shareholder in 1999. Istrobanka was established in 1992. Bawag acquired it in 2002. SITA

Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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