European Commission approves Mastercard’s acquisition of Nets’ account-to-account payment business

Maria Nikolova

The decision is conditional on the transfer of a license for Nets’ “Realtime 24/7” technology for account-to-account core infrastructure services as well as of the relevant personnel and other assets.

The European Commission has approved the proposed acquisition of Nets’ account-to-account payment business by Mastercard. The decision is conditional on the transfer of a license for Nets’ “Realtime 24/7” technology for account-to-account core infrastructure services as well as of the relevant personnel and other assets.

The Commission’s investigation focused on the markets for the provision of account-to-account core infrastructure services “A2A CIS” and account-to-account payment services “A2A payment services”, where the activities of the Mastercard and the target business mainly overlap in the European Economic Area (EEA).

The Commission found that the transaction, as originally notified, would have raised competition concerns in the EEA market for A2A CIS in relation to managed solutions. In this market, both companies have strong positions and the transaction would have led to the strengthening of the leading player, Mastercard.

The Commission also found that the parties closely compete with each other, having been shortlisted by customers in a higher number of EEA tenders compared to other players.

Finally, the Commission’s investigation revealed that the parties face a limited number of credible competitors in the provision of A2A CIS managed services, whereas the market for the provision of A2A CIS software-only solutions is generally more competitive. The Commission was therefore concerned that the proposed acquisition would harm competition and lead to higher prices and less choice in the market for the provision of A2A CIS as managed services.

To address the Commission’s concerns, Mastercard and Nets offered to transfer to a suitable purchaser a global license to distribute, supply, sell, develop, modify, upgrade or otherwise use Nets’ Realtime 24/7 technology, with which the target business currently competes in A2A CIS tenders. In particular, the purchaser will have access to the licensed technology on an exclusive basis in the EEA and, on a non-exclusive basis, outside of the EEA. The transfer also includes all necessary personnel and services, such as consultancy services and transitional support services, including access to all necessary components and capabilities to provide managed services based on Nets’ Realtime 24/7 technology.

The Commission concludes that the proposed commitments fully address its competition concerns, as they will increase competition in the market for the provision of A2A CIS as managed services in the EEA, by allowing a new player to effectively and credibly compete in this space.

The Commission therefore determined that the proposed transaction, as modified by the commitments, no longer raises competition concerns in the EEA.

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