CMA to Consider Mastercard Offer Before Approving VocaLink Deal

  • Antitrust watchdog will consider the remedies until March 15
  • Commpanies offer to make it easier for LINK to switch

Mastercard International Inc. and VocaLink Holdings Ltd. offered to reduce the cost to the LINK ATM network of switching infrastructure providers in an attempt to ease antitrust concerns raised by the Competition and Markets Authority.

The CMA will consider the offer until March 15, the regulator said in a statement Wednesday. The regulator said there are reasonable grounds for believing that the proposals, or a modified version of them, might be acceptable to remedy competition concerns.

The watchdog had found that VocaLink and Mastercard are two of the three most credible providers of infrastructure services -- which include software and hardware provision, as well as secure telecommunications networks -- to the LINK ATM network.

Mastercard in July said it would pay about 700 million pounds ($864 million) for 92.4 percent of London-based VocaLink, the payments processor that handles most payroll and household bill processing in the U.K.

"The merger would limit the ability of the LINK scheme to obtain good value when tendering for an infrastructure provider," the CMA said in the statement.

VocaLink also offered to transfer or license to LINK the intellectual property rights relating to the LINK LIS5 messaging standard, which members of the network use to communicate when customers use cash machines.

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