Thursday, 24 March 2022

Press Release – Clearance of the proposed acquisition of sole control, over the Merchant Acquiring Business Unit of Alpha Bank SA by Nexi SpA

Subject: Approval of the notification of acquisition of sole control, by Nexi SpA on the Merchant Acquiring Business Unit of Alpha Bank SA according to article 6 par. 1 to 3 of law 3959/2011, in the market of payment services.

By its unanimous Decision No. 773/2022, the Hellenic Competition Commission (HCC) approved, under Greek merger control rules, the proposed acquisition of sole control by "Nexi SpA", over the Merchant Acquiring Business Unit of Alpha Bank SA.  

The concentration concerns primarily the vertically situated market for the provision of payment card acceptance services (Merchant Acquiring) and the market for the provision of services for the processing of card acceptance data (Acquiring Processing) within the Greek territory.

According to the Decision, although Alpha Bank is active in the upstream market of payment card acceptance services (Merchant Acquiring) and NEXI is active in the downstream market that of, the data of processing services related to the acceptance of cards (Acquiring Processing), with a significant share, Alpha Bank is the only customer of NEXI on an exclusive basis and therefore the acquirer will not be able, through the specific concentration, to exclude other Customers in this market.

In any case, it should be noted that in the upstream market, the other large and equal in terms of market share, Euronet, clearly has the potential to increase production in response to any production restriction by the new entity.

While, there is intense competition in the market of the next level of Merchant Acquiring, as a large number of companies, either vertically integrated (VIVA, National Bank, Eurobank, Cardlink), or are able to turn to alternative inputs, are already active and they may therefore face a possible price increase by NEXI in the Acquiring Processing market.

The HCC approved, according to article 8 par. 3 of law 3959/2011, the notified merger that concerns the change of control, given that, this merger, despite falling within its scope of paragraph 1 of article 6 of law 3959/2011, does not cause serious doubts, as to its compatibility with the requirements of competition in the related markets of payment services in Greece.

Finally, with regard to related ancillary restrictions such as the exclusivity obligation, the non-compete clause and the confidentiality clause, cannot be considered by the Commission as directly related and necessary for the merger and therefore for their evaluation, the articles 1 and 2 of law 3959/2011 and 101 and 102 TFEU still apply.

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