ITALY: On February 23, 2007, Italy's competition authority announced that it had opened an investigation into the proposed merger of Societa Interbancaria per l'Automazione (SIA) and Societa per i Servizi Bancari (SSB). The authority considered that the merger could have anticompetitive effects including the possible strengthening of SSB's dominant position in the clearing services and card-payment processing markets. Another interesting aspect for the authority is that the proposed merger entity would be controlled by Italy's five leading domestic banks (BNL, Monte dei Paschi di Sienna, Capitalia, Unicredito and Intesa San Paolo). The financial services sector in Italy has come under increased scrutiny from the authority, which recently investigated charges for banking services.
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