CCPC clears Permanent TSB acquisition of certain Ulster Bank assets

July 22, 2022

The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) has cleared the proposed acquisition of certain assets of Ulster Bank Ireland DAC (Ulster Bank) by Permanent TSB PLC (PTSB). These assets consist of Ulster Bank’s performing non-tracker mortgage loans; a subset of Ulster Bank’s non-performing non-tracker mortgage loans; Ulster Bank’s entire performing micro-SME business direct loan book; 25 properties in the Ulster Bank branch network; and, Ulster Bank’s asset finance loan business (together referred to as the Target Assets) (the Proposed Acquisition).

In February 2021, Ulster Bank announced its intention to withdraw all of its banking services in the State.

Following notification to the CCPC in December 2021, the CCPC carried out a preliminary investigation of the Proposed Acquisition. A full investigation commenced in May 2022 to establish if the Proposed Acquisition could lead to a substantial lessening of competition in the State.

Based on a review of the evidence available to it, the CCPC accepted the argument of the parties that Ulster Bank would have exited the State irrespective of whether or not the sale of the Target Assets proceeded.

The CCPC considered whether the proposed acquisition would result in a substantial lessening of competition, when compared to the alternative scenario of a sale of Ulster Bank’s mortgage and micro SME lending assets to an alternative purchaser, and found that it would not.

The CCPC does not have a role in approving or reversing the decision of a company to exit the State and it has previously highlighted its concerns in relation to competition in the banking sector. The CCPC will continue to engage with stakeholders, including the Department of Finance as part of its retail banking review to consider how to ensure the sector is open and competitive for the benefit of everyone.

The CCPC will publish its full determination on its website no later than 60 working days after the date of the determination and after allowing the parties the opportunity to request that confidential information be removed from the published version.

Information about the merger notification can be found at M/21/076 – PTSB/Certain Assets of Ulster Bank.

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