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FNZ-GBST merger woes inch closer to resolution

Regulator-backed changes ‘will protect investment platforms and the people they serve’

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The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has finalised its recommendations to change the terms of the merger between retail investment platform giants FNZ and GBST.

This comes after the regulator completed a second investigation into the M&A deal, following a request from the competition appeal tribunal.

It found the merger in its current form would “substantially reduce competition” and lead to “higher prices or poorer service” in the UK market.

The CMA has confirmed its proposal for FNZ to sell GBST to an independent third party, approved by the CMA, with a right to subsequently buy back a limited set of assets relating to the capital markets business.

It said: “These assets that could be sold back to FNZ would be limited to those that could be transferred without affecting GBST’s competitiveness in the supply of retail investment platform solutions.

“After considering further submissions from FNZ, GBST and other parties, the group has concluded this proposal effectively prevents any reduction in competition as a result of this deal.”

Protection

Martin Coleman, chair of the CMA inquiry group, said: “Having completed our thorough review of the evidence, we have confirmed our provisional conclusion that the merger of FNZ and GBST could significantly decrease competition in the supply of retail investment platform solutions in the UK.

“Requiring FNZ to sell GBST, with the right to repurchase certain parts of the GBST business that are not related to the concerns that we have found, will protect investment platforms and the people they serve, including millions of people with pensions and other investments, from facing higher prices or poorer service in the future.”

A spokesperson for FNZ added: “We welcome the completion of the CMA’s investigation.

“While we have not yet had the opportunity to review the full decision, we also welcome the fact that the CMA appears to have endorsed as effective and proportionate the remedy proposal that we put forward during the remittal process.

“We will now digest the detail of the CMA’s decision and consider our next steps.”

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