FNZ has failed to convince the Competition and Markets Authority to reverse its order that it must sell off rival investment platform GBST following an appeals tribunal hearing.
FNZ purchased GBST in November 2019 for £150 million. Both firms have a significant presence in the UK, holding close to 50% of the market between them.
Following an in-depth Phase 2 investigation, the watchdog concluded that the loss of competition brought about by the deal could lead to investment platforms, and therefore UK consumers who rely on these platforms to administer their pensions and other investments, facing higher costs and lower quality services.
FNZ applied to the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) for a remittal of the CMA's decision to block the merger, but the watchdog remains steadfast.
Martin Coleman, chair of the CMA inquiry group, says: “Based on the latest evidence, we have come to the provisional conclusion that a merger of FNZ and GBST would significantly decrease competition in the retail investment platform solutions market."
In the CMA’s original Phase 2 decision, the group found that FNZ selling the entire GBST business was necessary to address its competition concerns.
However, after considering new representations and evidence during the remittal, it has offered an alternative remedy, requiring FNZ to sell GBST, but with a right to subsequently buy back a limited set of assets relating to its capital markets business. These assets would be restricted to those that do not affect GBST’s competitiveness in the supply of retail investment platform solutions.