UK competition regulator not to refer MasterCard/Vocalink deal to Phase 2 investigation

Maria Nikolova

The CMA has accepted the undertakings offered by Mastercard to address competition concerns stemming from its purchase of VocaLink.

Some progress has been made as with regards to the merger between Mastercard, an affiliate of MasterCard International Incorporated, and VocaLink Holdings Limited.

Earlier today, the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) announced that it accepted the undertakings offered by Mastercard to address competition concerns related to its purchase of VocaLink.

On January 18, 2017, the watchdog said it would review the proposed remedies amid concerns that since VocaLink and Mastercard are two of the three most credible providers of infrastructure services to the LINK ATM network operating across the UK, the merger would reduce the number of bidders and curtail the ability of the LINK scheme to obtain good value when tendering for an infrastructure provider.

The remedies outlined by MasterCard and VocaLink seek to reduce the cost to LINK of switching from VocaLink to alternative suppliers of infrastructure services.

The list of proposals includes:

  • VocaLink making its connectivity infrastructure available to a new supplier of infrastructure services to LINK.
  • VocaLink transferring or licensing to LINK the intellectual property rights relating to the LINK LIS5 messaging standard.
  • VocaLink contributing to LINK members’ switching costs.

In mid-March this year, the CMA said the review period would be extended until May 15, 2017, the reason for that being that the regulator “ will require further time to consider responses to its consultation and make a decision”.

Today, the CMA said that after considering responses to a formal consultation, it concluded the proposals are sufficient to address its competition concerns. This means that the merger will not be referred to a Phase 2 investigation (that is, an in-depth investigation) and the undertakings which have been signed by Mastercard will become effective from this date.

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