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Danske Banks selling their stakes in PBS

29. januar 2003

The Council meeting 29. January 2003

Summary

1. Danske Bank has sent a proposal to fulfilment of its commitment to Competition Council set on its meeting in November 2003. The commitment was to sell 17.7 pct. of the banks stock in PBS. In connection with selling the stake Danske Bank wish to sort out certain activities from those segments of PBS where the bank has to reduce its equity interest. Assuming that Danske Bank and the Competition Council agree that the segments separated from PBS are not vital to the Danish payment infrastructure, this is in keeping with the commitment.

2. The proposal involves PBS to demerge into three new groups:

3. For the activities of the first group of PBS (PBS Holding I) which among other things contains the service provider products needed for clearing, the Dankort, BetalingsService (Direct Debit Service) etc., the Competition Council finds that Danske Bank fulfil the commitment by selling the stake to the central bank, Danmarks Nationalbank. The agreement about the transfer of the stake is among other things determined by the approval of the competition authorities.

4. Danske Bank finds that activities of the second group of PBS (PBS Holding II) fulfil the conditions of being not vital to the Danish payment infrastructure. The activities in the second part are related to payroll products in PBS Multidata, the administration of properties in PBS Finans, the invoicing product in e-faktura (e-invoicing) and the activities with a digital signature in the so-called PKI-company, a consortium which at the moment takes part in a public procurement from the Ministry of Science Technology and Innovation.

5 The Competition Authority can agree with Danish Bank that the activities of the second group of PBS are not vital for the Danish payment infrastructure, except for e-faktura. The Authority finds that Danske Bank has not proved that e-faktura fulfils the condition mentioned above. The product has not been market yet and there has not appeared an alternative to the product that the banks are developing in common through PBS.

6. Danske Bank also has to reduce it’s stoke in the third group of PBS (PBS Holding III) which contains the activities connecting with international payment cards.

7. The selling of the stake of PBS Holding I to Danmarks Nationalbank will fulfil the claim in the agreement of commitments. The central bank has a special interest in the part of PBS that is the central part in the infrastructure and forms the foundation for a secure and efficient payment system. Selling the stake to the central bank fulfil the purpose of the commitment. It reduces Danske Bank voting influence on the infrastructure to the level that was present before the merger, ad to this that the 17.7 pct. of the stake now is placed with a part who is not one of the banks that are PBS’s costumers. This means that there is an additional incentive to keep the costs and prices of PBS down. Final the central bank has a very special interest in securing efficient infrastructure solutions.

Conclusion

8. The Competition Authority do agree with Danske Bank that the activities arranged to be placed in PBS Holding II, except for the activities in e-faktura, are not vital for the Danish payment infrastructure.

9. Danske Bank has to reduce its stake in the group of PBS Holding II that include e|faktura. Danske Bank does not have to reduce its stake in other part of the holding company.

10. The Competition Authority has moreover no objections against the central bank buying the stake in PBS Holding I that Danske Bank have to sell.