Japan will see the first merger between 2 dominant regional banks. The government has approved the merger of Fukuoka Financial Group and Eighteenth Bank. The proposal, which was first mooted in February 2016, has been on hold because of lack of understanding between the country’s competition authorities and its financial regulators. The decision to allow the deal sets a precedent that could lead to widespread consolidation in the banking sector plagued by ultra-low interest rates and declining regional economies. Fukuoka Financial and Eighteenth Bank are the two dominant players in Nagasaki prefecture, on the western island of Kyushu, with a combined market share of 70-75% in business lending. The two banks welcomed the FTC approval. In a joint statement, they said merging would allow them to achieve economies of scale and maintain their network on Nagasaki prefecture’s many remote islands.
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