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UK CMA finds MasterCard deal with VocaLink to encumber competition

Wednesday 4 January 2017 | 11:45 AM CET

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) UK has found MasterCard`s planned GBP 700 million (USD 859 million) takeover of VocaLink, a payments company, to encumber competition.

The CMA considers that the deal would give MasterCard too great a control over bidding for contracts with the UK ATM network, reports.

Both MasterCard and VocaLink provide services to the LINK ATM network, which accounts for 70,000 cash machines across the UK and Europe. VocaLink provides software to the network.

The CMA says MasterCard and VocaLink's "merger would reduce the number of bidders and limit the ability of the LINK scheme to obtain good value when tendering for an infrastructure provider."

The watchdog is giving MasterCard and VocaLink until January 11 to propose a remedy to its concerns before launching a full investigation. A likely remedy would be the selling off or spinning out the part of VocaLink that works with LINK.

MasterCard first announced plans to take over VocaLink in July 2016. VocaLink provides the technology that deals with 90% of UK salary payments and almost all state benefit payments. In 2016 it processed 11 billion transactions and had revenues of GBP 182 million.

A group of 13 banks and building societies including HSBC, RBS, Lloyds, and Barclays currently own VocaLink.

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