As the COVID-19 hiatus of bank consolidation activity ends, European bank M&A consolidation activity reaches unprecedented levels

I have not seen bank consolidation M&A activity like this since before the global financial crisis. Deals are much bigger, but also much more complex to safely execute.

Overview

3 key drivers of bank M&A in H1 2021:

  • European bank consolidation reaches stratospheric heights: COVID-19 precipitates inorganic growth, as traditional bricks & mortar models come under pressure
  • Bulking up to compete: Banks display voracious appetite for portfolios, branches, operating businesses and their competitors
  • Bracing for impact of COVID-19 on the financial sector: Europe's banks seek to deleverage balance sheets in preparation for an avalanche of soured loans

CURRENT MARKET

  • Upward, significant

WE ARE SEEING

  • Re-launch of corporate restructurings, branch closures and headcount management exercises which had been paused amidst COVID-19 turmoil
  • Re-evaluation of core vs. non-core businesses:
    • Selling out of non-core business lines (e.g., Crédit Agricole's exit from Brazil and US wealth management markets) and non-core geographies (e.g., HSBC's exit from USA and Saudi Arabia)
    • Bulking up through acquisition of portfolios (e.g., AIB's acquisition of €4.2 billion of performing corporate and commercial loans from Ulster Bank), branches (e.g., BPPB's acquisition of 26 branches from Intesa Sanpaolo), operating businesses (e.g., Raiffeisen's acquisition of ING's Czech retail banking business) and competitors (e.g., DNB's acquisition of Sbanken)
  • Bracing for impact of COVID-19 on the financial sector:
    • Disposal of non-performing and unlikely-to-pay loan portfolios—particularly across Italy, Spain, Greece, Cyprus and Denmark in H1 2021
    • Acquisitions of debt servicing capability (e.g., Aleph Capital Partners' acquisition of Finans2)
    • Bulking up debt servicing capacity (e.g., Grupo BC's acquisition of Grupo Lexer)
  • COVID-19 hiatus of bank consolidation activity ends—M&A reaches stratospheric heights:
    • Domestic champions emerge (e.g., CaixaBank's merger with Bankia to create Spain's biggest domestic bank)
    • Mega domestic combinations (e.g., Denmark's Sparekassen Vendsyssel's acquisition of Salling Bank and subsequent merger with Jutlander Bank)
    • Regional combinations (e.g., Banca Transilvania's acquisition of Idea Bank Romania and Abanca's acquisition of Bankoa)
    • Challenger bank combinations (e.g., Orange Bank's acquisition of Anytime)

KEY DRIVERS

  • Banks reconsider product and service delivery models:
    • Reconfiguring operating models following Brexit (e.g., Lloyds, Halifax, Santander and M&S Bank all closed UK branches in H1 2021)
    • Pivoting to digital service delivery, hastened by low physical branch utilisation during the COVID-19 pandemic
    • Achieving cost savings (e.g., BoI's closure of 88 branches in Ireland and 15 branches in Northern Ireland is expected to deliver annualised cost savings of €26 million)
    • Securing capital release through exit from nonviable geographies (e.g., UBI Banca's surrender of Brazilian banking licence)
  • Balance sheet deleveraging driven by:
    • Needs of Europe's systemic banks to deliver strategic capital plans (e.g.,UniCredit's sale of €220 million of unsecured retail NPLs to MBCredit Solutions)
    • Vibrant and eager buy-side recipients of financial assets, including financial sponsors (e.g., Bain Capital Credit's acquisition of €174 million of NPLs from NBG), industrial-scale debt servicers (e.g., Pimco's acquisition of €545 million of NPLs from Bank of Cyprus) and specialist credit managers (e.g., AMCO's acquisition of €70 million of NPLs and UTPs from Banca Carige)
  • Wide universe of potential buyers of European banks, including non-financial services conglomerates (e.g., Ikea's acquisition of 49% of Ikano Bank), private equity (e.g., Dragon Capital's acquisition of 75% of UnexBank), insurers (e.g., UnipolSai's acquisition of 4% of Banca Popolare di Sondrio) and management teams (e.g., senior management's acquisition of a minority stake in A&G)
  • Turning to consolidation amidst COVID-19 precipitated economic uncertainty:
    • Seeking scale and scope to survive in domestic markets
    • Bolstering embankments following arrival of BigTech (e.g., Ebay's SME loan offering and Google's digital banking JV with Commerzbank)
    • Combating increasingly fierce competition from new entrants—>10 successful neo-bank fundraisings, and >5 successful challenger bank fundraisings in H1 2021

TRENDS TO WATCH

  • Regulatory intervention in M&A deals and restructurings which could result in closure of physical bank branches and potentially stifle use of cash (e.g., UK FCA's consideration of new rules that would allow it to block banks from closing high street branches)
  • Inevitable onslaught of souring loans driving NPL, UTP and REO portfolio sales, particularly across Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Cyprus and Ireland
  • Increasing market appetite for European bank equity (e.g., Alpha Bank's successful €800 million equity capital raise in H1 2021)
  • Rise in popularity of the partnership model amongst established banks and challenger banks (e.g., Atom Bank's Open Banking JV with Plaid)
  • Resurgence of shareholder activism, with a particular focus on ESG agendas (e.g., Market Forces' pressure on Standard Chartered and Barclays to cut fossil fuel financing)

Our M&A forecast

Very strong growth in M&A activity as the COVID-19 hiatus of bank consolidation activity comes to an end—mega regional consolidations and creation of domestic champions to dominate headlines. NPL, UTP and REO trading markets to remain active. European banks to deploy profits generated from 2020/2021 trading volatility towards opportunistic M&A and digital transformation.

Banks—Publicly reported deals & situations

Banks relaunch restructurings post-COVID-19

COVID-19 slowed down the pace of German bank M&A but acted as a catalyst for branch closures, especially at large groups such as Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank. S&P Global (April 2021)

UK FCA is considering new rules that would allow it to block banks from closing high street branches, to help ensure consumers and businesses can still use cash. Financial Times (August 2021)

More than 4,000 bank and building society branches have closed in the UK over the past 6 years, at a rate of about 50 a month. S&P Global (April 2021)

Major US banks have shifted assets to Germany since Britain voted to leave the EU nearly 5 years ago, though the UK remains the biggest destination for US funds. S&P Global (May 2021)

More than £900 billion of UK bank assets have been moved or are being moved to the EU due to Brexit. S&P Global (April 2021)

Branch closures:

  • Lloyds bank (UK): Closure of 29 UK branches (June 2021)
  • Halifax (UK): Closure of 15 UK branches (June 2021)
  • Deutsche Bank (Germany): Relocation of 100 London employees to overseas branches (May 2021)
  • ING (Netherlands): Closure of 69 Dutch branches and migration to local service points (March 2021)
  • Santander (UK): Closure of 111 UK branches (March 2021)
  • M&S Bank (UK): Closure of all of its current accounts and 29 in-store UK branches (March 2021)
  • Bank of Ireland (Ireland and Northern Ireland): Closure of 88 Irish branches and 15 Northern Irish branches (February 2021)

Corporate reorganisations:

  • Rosbank & Rusfinance Bank (Russia): Merger (March 2021)

Geographic exit:

  • UBI Banca: Surrender of Brazilian banking licence (April 2021)

Disposals of non-core operating businesses

Deal highlight:

White & Case advised Alpha Bank on the disposal, by way of competitive auction process, of 80% of Cepal Hellas to Davidson Kempner, a key component of Alpha Bank's balance sheet recalibration exercise.

  • ABN Amro (Netherlands): Disposal of Maas Capital (June 2021)
  • Commercial Bank Modulbank (Russia): Disposal of Vostochny Capital (May 2021)
  • HSBC (USA): Disposal of West Coast domestic mass market and retail business banking businesses (May 2021)
  • HSBC (Saudi Arabia): Disposal of Saudi Arabian asset management, retail brokerage and retail margin lending businesses (May 2021)
  • Banco de Sabadell (Spain): Disposal of Aurica Capital Development (May 2021)
  • Bank Audi (Egypt): Disposal of Bank Audi Egypt (May 2021)
  • Crédit Agricole (Spain): Disposal of 99.81% of Bankoa (April 2021)
  • Crédit Agricole (Brazil): Disposal of Brazilian wealth management business (April 2021)
  • EFG (Spain): Disposal of minority stake in A&G (April 2021)
  • NatWest (UK): Disposal of Adam & Co's private client investment management business (April 2021)
  • National Investment Bank (Egypt): Disposal of 76% of Arab Investment Bank (April 2021)
  • Sovcombank (Russia): Disposal of Oney Bank (April 2021)
  • Alfa-Bank (Russia): Disposal of 40% of Potok Digital (April 2021)
  • Emirates NBD (UAE): Disposal of controlling stake in Dubai Bank (April 2021)
  • Novo Banca (Spain): Disposal of Spanish branch business (April 2021)
  • Axis Bank (UK): Disposal of Axis Bank UK (April 2021)
  • Piraeus Bank (Greece): Disposal of merchant acquiring business (March 2021)
  • Crédit Agricole (US): Disposal of Indosuez Wealth Management (March 2021)
  • ING (Czech Republic): Disposal of Czech retail business (March 2021)
  • Alpha Bank (Greece): Disposal of 80% of Cepal Hellas to Davidson Kempner (February 2021)
  • BBVA (Finland): Disposal of Holvi (February 2021)
  • Bank Audi (Egypt): Disposal of Bank Audi (Egypt) (January 2021)
  • Blom Bank (Egypt): Disposal of Blom Bank Egypt (January 2021)
  • Mizrahi Tehafot Bank (Switzerland): Disposal of United Mizrahi Bank Switzerland (January 2021)
  • Rabobank (Tanzania): Disposal of 34.9% of NMB Bank (January 2021)
  • Crédit Agricole (Romania): Disposal of Crédit Agricole Bank Romania (January 2021)
  • Eurasian Bank (Russia): Disposal of Eurasian Bank (Russia) (January 2021)

Financial asset management—bank disposals, collaborations and outsourcings

Bank of Italy says Italian lenders could face loan losses of about €9 billion in 2021 and 2022 as the impact of COVID-19 on the financial sector becomes clearer. Financial News (May 2021)

CEE banks are not expected to sell NPLs related to COVID-19 in the near term amid pricing and logistical challenges. S&P Global (February 2021)

NPL/UTP disposals:

  • Bank Norwegian (Denmark): Disposal of £161.6 million of NPLs to Lowell Group (June 2021)
  • UniCredit (Italy): Disposal of €220 million of unsecured retail NPLs to MBCredit Solutions (June 2021)
  • National Bank of Greece (Greece): Disposal of €174 million of NPLs to Bain Capital Credit (May 2021)
  • Bank Norwegian (Denmark): Disposal of £30.07 million of Danish defaulted credit card loans to Lowell Group (April 2021)
  • BPER Banca (Italy): Disposal of €248 million of secured UTPs to Intrum and Deva Capital (April 2021)
  • Banca Carige (Italy): Disposal of €70 million of NPLs and UTPs to AMCO (April 2021)
  • MBCredit Solutions (Italy): Acquisition of €33 million of unsecured retail NPLs (March 2021)
  • Bank Norwegian (Sweden): Disposal of SEK 650 million of Swedish defaulted credit card loans to Intrum (March 2021)
  • Novo Banco (Portugal): Disposal of €216.3 million of NPLs to Davidson Kempner (March 2021)
  • Isbank (Turkey): Disposal of US$100 million of NPLs to Emir Varlik Yonetim, Istanbul Varlik Yonetim, Gelecek Varlik Yonetim, Hedef Varlik Yonetim and Arsan Varlik Yonetim (March 2021)
  • BCC Centropadana (Italy): Disposal of €5.2 million of NPLs to Balbec Capital (February 2021)
  • AIB (Ireland): Disposal of €400 million of real estate NPLs to Apollo (February 2021)
  • Bank of Cyprus (Cyprus): Disposal of €545 million of NPLs to Pimco (January 2021)
  • Illimity (Italy): Disposal of €129 million of NPLs to Sorec and Phinance Partners (January 2021)
  • Enel Energia SPA (Italy): Disposal of €87 million of NPLs to Euro Service (January 2021)
  • Banco Sabadell (Spain): Disposal of €600 million of NPLs to Lone Star (January 2021)
  • BBVA (Spain): Disposal of €700 million of NPLs and REOs to KKR and Fortress (January 2021)

Acquiring debt servicing capability/capacity:

  • Grupo BC (Spain): Acquisition of Grupo Lexer (April 2021)
  • Aleph Capital Partners (Norway): Acquisition of Finans2 (April 2021)
  • TDR Capital (UK): Acquisition of Arrow Global Group (April 2021)
  • Davidson Kempner (Greece): Acquisition of 80% of Cepal Hellas (February 2021)
  • Plataforma Legal (Spain): Acquisition of Multigestión Iberia (January 2021)

Performing portfolio trades—sellers:

  • UniCredit (Italy): Disposal of €250 million of unsecured consumer loans to KRUK (June 2021)
  • Ulster Bank (Ireland): Disposal of €4 billion of performing commercial loans to AIB (February 2021)
  • Abu Dhabi Finance (UAE): Disposal of 1,000 mortgages to Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (February 2021)
  • Ulster Bank (Ireland): Disposal of €4.2 billion of corporate and commercial loans to AIB (June 2021)

Acquisitions—financial sponsors:

  • Bain Capital Credit (Greece): Acquisition of €174 million of NPLs from National Bank of Greece (May 2021)
  • Metric Capital Partners (Spain): Acquisition of €630 million of NPLs and REOs (March 2021)
  • Emir Varlik Yonetim, Istanbul Varlik Yonetim, Gelecek Varlik Yonetim, Hedef Varlik Yonetim and Arsan Varlik Yonetim (Turkey): Acquisition of US$100 million of NPLs from Isbank (March 2021)
  • Davidson Kempner (Portugal): Acquisition of €216.3 million of NPLs from Novo Banco (March 2021)
  • Davidson Kempner and Citibank (UK): Acquisition of Bradford & Bingley and NRAM portfolios from UK Asset Resolution (March 2021)
  • Apollo (Ireland): Acquisition of €400 million of real estate NPLs from AIB (February 2021)
  • Balbec Capital (Italy): Acquisition of €5.2 million of NPLs from BCC Centropadana (February 2021)
  • Sorec and Phinance Partners (Italy): Acquisition of €129 million of NPLs from Illimity (January 2021)
  • Lone Star (Spain): Acquisition of €600 million of NPLs from Banco Sabadell (January 2021)
  • KKR and Fortress (Spain): Acquisition of €700 million of NPLs and REOs from BBVA (January 2021)
  • Plataforma Legal (Spain): Acquisition of €4 billion of NPLs from D.E. Shaw (January 2021)

Acquisitions—industrial-scale debt servicing:

  • Lowell Group (Denmark): Acquisition of £161.6 million of NPLs from Bank Norwegian (June 2021)
  • MBCredit Solutions (Italy): Acquisition of €220 million of unsecured retail NPLs from UniCredit (June 2021)
  • J-Invest (Italy): Acquisition of €8.4 million of NPLs via BlinkS digital NPL trading platform (April 2021)
  • Intrum and Deva Capital (Italy): Acquisition of €248 million of secured UTPs from BPER Banca (April 2021)
  • Lowell Group (Denmark): Acquisition of £30.07 million of Danish defaulted credit card loans from Bank Norwegian (April 2021)
  • Intrum (Sweden): Acquisition of SEK 650 million Swedish defaulted credit card loans from Bank Norwegian (March 2021)
  • Pimco (Cyprus): Acquisition of €545 million of NPLs from Bank of Cyprus (January 2021)
  • Euro Service (Italy): Acquisition of €87 million of NPLs from Enel Energia (January 2021)

Acquisitions—credit managers:

  • AMCO (Italy): Acquisition of €70 million of NPLs and UTPs from Banca Carige (April 2021)

Securitisation:

  • Bank of Ireland (Ireland): Securitisation of €344 million of NPLs (June 2021)

Performing portfolio trades—purchasers:

  • AIB (Ireland): Acquisition of €4.2 billion of performing corporate and commercial loans from Ulster Bank (June 2021)
  • KRUK (Italy): Acquisition of €250 million of unsecured consumer loans from UniCredit (June 2021)
  • AIB (Ireland): Acquisition of €4 billion of performing commercial loans from Ulster Bank (June 2021)
  • Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (UAE): Acquisition of 1,000 mortgages from Abu Dhabi Finance (February 2021)

Mergers and consolidation M&A

A new capital rule for banks in the UAE will add pressure on smaller banks and may drive further consolidation. The new rules, which come fully into force by 2023-end, will require local banks to have a minimum of approximately £393.8 million of paid-up capital. S&P Global (June 2021)

Danish bank M&A wave to continue after 'eye-opening' deal activity in 2020—Sparekassen Vendsyssel & Salling, Sydbank & Alm. Brand, Vestjysk Bank & Den Jyske Sparekasse and Spar Nord Bank & P/F BankNordik. S&P Global (April 2021)

Consolidation in Portugal's banking sector is inevitable in the face of record-low interest rates. M&A is a "natural" step for banks. Financial News (March 2021)

Italy is shaping up to be the busiest market for bank mergers in Europe in 2021 amid a wave of domestic consolidation across Europe that has been accelerated by COVID-19. S&P Global (March 2021)

Credit Suisse forecast that there will be more M&A transactions in Spain's banking sector in 2021. S&P Global (January 2021)

European bank M&A poised to enter "bull market". Bank shares are cheap, interest rates are low, regulators are keen and COVID-19 has increased the need for digitalization and restructuring. S&P Global (March 2021)

The average size of deals between European banks hit a 12-year high in 2020, as the industry seeks greater scale to compete with bigger US rivals. Financial Times (January 2021)

The ECB will not penalize credible integration plans in the banking sector by setting higher Pillar 2 capital requirements. The ECB has addressed 3 key areas—post-merger capital requirements, prudential treatment of badwill and transitional arrangements for the use of internal models in calculating capital requirements. S&P Global (January 2021)

"Challengers":

  • Moneta (Czech Republic): Acquisition of Air Bank Group (May 2021)
  • Lunar (Sweden): Acquisition of Lendify (April 2021)
  • HR Bank (Turkey): Acquisition of Bank Pozitif (February 2021)
  • Orange Bank (France): Acquisition of Anytime (January 2021)

Regional/domestic consolidation:

  • Jutlander Bank & Sparekassen Vendsyssel (Denmark): Merger (June 2021)
  • DNB Bank (Sweden): Acquisition of Sbanken (June 2021)
  • Banca Transilvania (Romania): Acquisition of Idea Bank Romania (June 2021)
  • OTP Bank (Slovenia): Acquisition of Nova KBM (June 2021)
  • Crédit Agricole (Italy): Acquisition 95% of Creval (May 2021)
  • Banca Ifis (Italy): Acquisition of Aigis Banca (May 2021)
  • Salaam African Bank (Kenya): Acquisition of Uwezo Microfinance Bank (May 2021)
  • First Abu Dhabi Bank (Egypt): Acquisition of Bank Audi Egypt (May 2021)
  • I&M Bank (Uganda): Acquisition of 90% of Orient Bank (May 2021)
  • Abanca (Spain): Acquisition of 99.81% of Bankoa (April 2021)
  • Frankfurter Volksbank (Germany): Acquisition of VR-Bank Alzenau (April 2021)
  • EFG Hermes (Egypt): Acquisition of 51% of Arab Investment Bank (April 2021)
  • Sovcombank (Russia): Acquisition of Orient Express Bank (April 2021)
  • mts Banka & Banka Poštanska štedionica (Serbia): Merger (April 2021)
  • National Commercial Bank & Samba Financial Group (Saudi Arabia): Merger (April 2021)
  • Minsk Transit Bank (Belarus): Acquisition of Idea Bank Belarus (April 2021)
  • Liberbank & Unicaja Banco (Spain): Merger (April 2021)
  • Aktieselskabet Arbejdernes Landsbank (Denmark): Acquisition of 28.3% of Vestjysk Bank (March 2021)
  • Access Bank (South Africa): Acquisition of 51% of Grobank (March 2021)
  • Arab International Bank (Saudi Arabia): Acquisition of 4.36% of Société Arabe Internationale de Banque (March 2021)
  • CaixaBank & Bankia (Spain): Merger (March 2021)
  • Credit Bank of Moscow (Russia): Acquisition of Koltso Urala Commercial Bank (March 2021)
  • Bank Spoldzielczy W Jedrzejowie & Bank Spoldzielczy W Sedziszowie (Poland): Merger (March 2021)
  • Saudi British Bank & Alawwal Bank (Saudi Arabia): Merger (March 2021)
  • Bawag (Ireland): Acquisition of Depfa Bank (February 2021)
  • First Abu Dhabi Bank (Egypt): Acquisition of Bank Audi (Egypt) (January 2021)
  • Arab Banking Corporation (Egypt): Acquisition of Blom Bank Egypt (January 2021)
  • Hyposwiss Private Bank Geneva (Switzerland): Acquisition of United Mizrahi Bank Switzerland (January 2021)
  • Vista Bank (Romania): Acquisition of Crédit Agricole Bank Romania (January 2021)
  • Sovcombank (France): Acquisition of Oney Bank (January 2021)
  • Sovcombank (Russia): Acquisition of Eurasian Bank (Russia) (January 2021)
  • Bank Pekao (Poland): Acquisition of Idea Bank's assets and liabilities (January 2021)

Diversification through partnerships

  • BNP Paribas (Italy): Disposal of 40% stake in BNL Finance to Poste Italiane (January 2021)

Opportunistic M&A—COVID-19 creates opportunities

  • Ringkjøbing Landbobank (Luxembourg): Acquisition of Banque Internationale à Luxembourg client portfolio (June 2021)
  • Sovcombank (Russia): Acquisition of Vostochny Capital (May 2021)
  • The Saudi British Bank (Saudi Arabia): Acquisition of HSBC Saudi Arabia's asset management, retail brokerage and retail margin lending businesses (May 2021)
  • Intesa Sanpaolo (Netherlands): Acquisition of 1.31% of Euronext (April 2021)
  • Abanca Corporación Bancaria (Spain): Acquisition of Novo Banco's Spanish business (April 2021)
  • Bank Pekao (Poland): Acquisition of 38.33% of Krajowy Integrator Płatności (Tpay) (April 2021)
  • Crédit Agricole (Italy): Acquisition of 5.38% of Creval (March 2021)
  • Santander (US): Acquisition of Indosuez Wealth Management (March 2021)
  • Raiffeisen (Czech Republic): Acquisition of ING's Czech retail banking business (March 2021)
  • Raiffeisen (Czech Republic): Acquisition of Akcenta CZ (February 2021)
  • BPPB (Italy): Acquisition of 26 branches from Intesa Sanpaolo (January 2021)

Fintech investment

Please refer to the Fintech Report in this series.

Wide buyer universe

Deal highlight:

White & Case advised The Co-operative Bank on the sale by Blue Mountain of its minority stake to J.C. Flowers and Bain Capital Credit.

Deal highlight:

White & Case advised Alpha Bank, one of Greece's four largest lenders, on its successful €800 million combined share offering through a public offering in Greece and an international placement with institutional investors.

Conglomerates:

  • Eradah Capital (UAE): Acquisition of controlling stake in Dubai Bank (April 2021)
  • Arise (Tanzania): Acquisition of 34.9% of NMB Bank (January 2021)

Private equity:

  • J.C. Flowers and Bain Capital Credit (UK): Acquisition of minority stake in The Co-Operative Bank (April 2021)
  • PPF (Czech Republic): Acquisition of 28.36% of Moneta Money Bank (March 2021)
  • Dragon Capital (Ukraine): Acquisition of 75.01% of UnexBank (March 2021)

Insurers:

  • UnipolSai (Italy): Acquisition of 4% of Banca Popolare di Sondrio (May 2021)

SWFs:

  • Sovereign Fund of Egypt (Egypt): Acquisition of 25% of Arab Investment Bank (April 2021)

MBOs:

  • A&G (Spain): Acquisition of minority stake by senior management (April 2021)

Ultra-high-net-worth/familyoffices/private investment groups:

  • Oleg Boyko (Russia): Acquisition of 99.56% of Bank SIAB (April 2021)
  • Tatyana Bakalchuk/Wildberries (South Africa): Acquisition of Standard-Credit Bank (February 2021)
  • Ikea (Sweden): Acquisition of 49% of Ikano Bank (February 2021)

E-commerce:

  • Ozon (Russia): Acquisition of Oney Bank (April 2021)

Asset managers:

  • GFH Financial (Bahrain): Acquisition of 13.56% of Khaleeji Commercial Bank (June 2021)

Market appetite:

  • Alpha Bank (Greece): Successful €800 million equity capital raise (July 2021)
  • Íslandsbanki (Iceland): Nasdaq Iceland IPO (June 2021)
  • UK Government (UK): Accelerated bookbuild disposal of 5% of NatWest (May 2021)

Redoubled disruptive efforts from challengers and new entrants

Finance app downloads spiked by 15% during COVID-19, with mobile fintech applications outperforming banks by a factor of up to 10.8x. Finextra (April 2021)

Neo-banks (fundraisings):

  • Memo Bank: Successful €13 million Venture funding round, led by Serena Capital (June 2021)
  • Telda: Successful US$5 million pre-Seed funding round, led by Sequoia Capital (May 2021)
  • Viva Wallet: Successful US$80 million Venture funding round, led by Tencent, EBRD and Breyer Capital (April 2021)
  • Alpian: Successful US$18 million Series B funding round (April 2021)
  • Meniga: Successful €10 million funding round, led by Velocity Capital Fintech Ventures and Frumtak Ventures (March 2021)
  • Kuda: Successful US$25 million Series A funding round, led by Valar Ventures (March 2021)
  • Rewire: Successful US$20 million funding round, led by OurCrowd (March 2021)
  • First Boulevard: Successful US$5 million Seed funding round, led by Barclays (March 2021)
  • Monument: Successful US$28 million Series A funding round, led by Eric Zinterhofer, Rakesh Loonkar and Harry Handelsman (February 2021)
  • Penta: Successful €7.5 million Series B funding round, led by finleap, HV Capital, RTP Global, Presight Capital, S7V, VR Ventures and ABN Amro Ventures (February 2021)
  • Tyme: Successful US$110 million Series B funding round, led by JG Summit Holdings, Apis Growth Fund II and African Rainbow Capital (February 2021)
  • Northmill: Successful US$30 million Series A funding round, led by M2 Asset Management and Coeli (February 2021)

Neo-banks (new entrants):

  • Revolut: Application for US bank charter (March 2021)
  • Cashplus Bank: Securing UK banking licence (February 2021)
  • Oxbury Bank: Securing UK banking licence (February 2021)
  • Revolut: Application for UK banking licence (January 2021)

"Challenger" banks (fundraisings):

  • Trade Republic Bank: Successful €613.65 million Series C funding round, led by Sequoia Capital Operations (May 2021)
  • Starling Bank: Successful £50 million equity investment from Goldman Sachs Growth Equity (April 2021)
  • Starling Bank: Successful £270 million Series D funding round, led by Fidelity Management & Research (March 2021)
  • Atom Bank: Successful £40 million funding round, led by BBVA and Toscafund Asset Management (April 2021)
  • Monzo: Successful £75 million funding round, led by Nikesh Arora and AME Cloud Ventures (February 2021)

"Challenger" banks (partnerships):

  • Orange Bank: Consumer lending JV with Younited (June 2021)
  • Atom Bank: Open banking JV with Plaid (February 2021)

Here cometh BigTech

  • eBay: Loan financing to SMEs who sell through eBay UK (April 2021)
  • Google: Digital banking JV with Commerzbank (March 2021)

Activism returns post-COVID-19

Market update:

Sherborne Investors has sold its entire stake in Barclays, ending a three-year battle to shrink its investment bank.

  • Market Forces: Pressure on Standard Chartered to cut fossil fuel financing (April 2021)
  • Market Forces: Pressure on Barclays to cut fossil fuel financing (April 2021)
  • Petrus Advisers: Pressure on Moneta Money Bank to avoid merger with Air Bank (April 2021)
  • Petrus Advisers: Pressure on three executive appointments to Aareal Bank's supervisory board (April 2021)
  • Melgart Asset Management, Alta Global and Petrus Advisers: Opposition to Crédit Agricole's takeover bid of Credito Valtellinese (April 2021)
  • Harris Associates: Opposition to re-appointment of Andrew Gottschling as Chairman of Credit Suisse's risk committee (April 2021)
  • Bluebell Capital Partners: Opposition to Pier Carlo Padoan's appointment as Chairman of UniCredit (March 2021)