Update on regulatory approvals relating to the voluntary tender offer for Sbanken ASA
NOT FOR RELEASE, PUBLICATION OR DISTRIBUTION, IN WHOLE OR IN PART, DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY, INTO OR WITHIN CANADA, AUSTRALIA, NEW ZEALAND, SOUTH AFRICA, HONG KONG, JAPAN OR ANY OTHER JURISDICTION IN WHICH THE DISTRIBUTION OR RELEASE WOULD BE UNLAWFUL
Oslo, 16 November 2021
Reference is made to the offer document dated 23 April 2021 (the "Offer Document") and subsequent stock exchange announcements for the recommended voluntary offer by DNB Bank ASA (the "Offeror") to acquire all outstanding shares in Sbanken ASA (the "Company") not already owned by the Offeror (the "Offer").
Further reference is made to the reasoned Statement of Objections issued by the Norwegian Competition Authority (the "NCA") on 26 August 2021 against the Offeror’s contemplated acquisition of the Company pursuant to the Offer (the "SO"). The SO was based on the NCA’s preliminary assessments related to possible effects on competition caused by the acquisition in the market for fund distribution.
Further to the Offeror’s announcements on 7 October 2021 and 28 October 2021, the Offeror has proposed multiple alternative remedies involving several third parties to address the preliminary concerns expressed in the SO. The remedies offered included, among others, a divesture of most of the Company’s fund distribution operations and behavioural remedies following such divestiture, which in the Offeror’s view would fully address the NCA’s concerns expressed in the SO.
Despite this, the NCA has today announced that the remedies proposed by the Offeror have not sufficiently mitigated the NCA’s concerns as set out in the SO and has therefore issued a decision rejecting the contemplated acquisition. As such, Condition 3 "Regulatory Approvals" in Section 3.4 (Conditions for completion of the Offer) remains unsatisfied.
The Offeror is now assessing a possible challenge of the NCA’s decision by filing an appeal to the Norwegian Competition Tribunal (Nw. Konkurranseklagenemnda). Further announcement will be made by the Offeror in due course, noting that the Offeror has 15 business days to determine whether to appeal the NCA’s decision.
Settlement of the Offer shall take place no later than 10 business days after the date on which the Offeror has announced that the closing conditions for the Offer as described in the Offer Document, including "Regulatory Approvals", have been fulfilled or waived by the Offeror. Settlement of the Offer will, subject to applicable law, remain subject to Conditions 3 (No Material Adverse Change), 4 (Conduct of business), 6 (No governmental interference) and 7 (No breach of Transaction Agreement) until the settlement of the Offer. See Sections 3.4 (Conditions for completion of the Offer) and 3.10 (Settlement) of the Offer Document for further information.
DNB Markets, a part of DNB Bank ASA is acting as financial advisor to the Offeror. Advokatfirmaet BAHR AS is the legal advisor to the Offeror in connection with the Offer. Arctic Securities AS is acting as financial advisor and Advokatfirmaet Thommessen AS is the legal advisor to the Company in connection with the Offer.
For further information, please contact the following persons in the Offeror:
Rune Helland, Head of Investor Relations, telephone +47 97 71 32 50
Thomas Midteide, GEVP Communications & Sustainability: +47 96 23 20 17
The following persons in the Company may also be contacted in connection with the Offer:
Jesper M. Hatletveit, Head of Investor Relations, +47 95 94 00 45
Henning Nordgulen, CFO, +47 95 26 59 90
Kristian K. Fredheim, Head of Communications, +47 92 44 74 07
This information is subject to the disclosure requirements according to section 5-12 of the Norwegian Securities Trading Act.
The Offer and the distribution of this announcement and other information in connection with the Offer may be restricted by law in certain jurisdictions. When published, the Offer Document and related acceptance forms will not and may not be distributed, forwarded or transmitted into or within any jurisdiction where prohibited by applicable law, including, without limitation, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Hong Kong and Japan. The Offeror does not assume any responsibility in the event there is a violation by any person of such restrictions. Persons into whose possession this announcement or such other information should come are required to inform themselves about and to observe any such restrictions.
This announcement is not a tender offer document and, as such, does not constitute an offer or the solicitation of an offer to acquire the Shares. Investors may accept the Offer only on the basis of the information provided in the Offer Document. Offers will not be made directly or indirectly in any jurisdiction where either an offer or participation therein is prohibited by applicable law or where any tender offer document or registration or other requirements would apply in addition to those undertaken in Norway.
Notice to U.S. Holders
U.S. Holders (as defined below) are advised that the Shares are not listed on a U.S. securities exchange and that the Company is not subject to the periodic reporting requirements of the U.S. Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the "U.S. Exchange Act"), and is not required to, and does not, file any reports with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (the "SEC") thereunder. The Offer will be made to holders of Shares resident in the United States ("U.S. Holders") on the same terms and conditions as those made to all other holders of Shares of the Company to whom an offer is made. Any information documents, including the Offer Document, will be disseminated to U.S. Holders on a basis comparable to the method that such documents are provided to the Company's other shareholders to whom an offer is made. The Offer will be made by the Offeror and no one else.
The Offer will be made to U.S. Holders pursuant to Section 14(e) and Regulation 14E under the U.S. Exchange Act as a "Tier II" tender offer, and otherwise in accordance with the requirements of Norwegian law. Accordingly, the Offer will be subject to disclosure and other procedural requirements, including with respect to the offer timetable, settlement procedures and timing of payments, that are different from those that would be applicable under U.S. domestic tender offer procedures and law.
Pursuant to an exemption from Rule 14e-5 under the U.S. Exchange Act, the Offeror and its affiliates or brokers (acting as agents for the Offeror or its affiliates, as applicable) may from time to time, and other than pursuant to the Offer, directly or indirectly, purchase or arrange to purchase, Shares or any securities that are convertible into, exchangeable for or exercisable for such Shares outside the United States during the period in which the Offer remains open for acceptance, so long as those acquisitions or arrangements comply with applicable Norwegian law and practice and the provisions of such exemption. To the extent information about such purchases or arrangements to purchase is made public in Norway, such information will be disclosed by means of an English language press release via an electronically operated information distribution system in the United States or other means reasonably calculated to inform U.S. Holders of such information. In addition, the financial advisors to the Offeror may also engage in ordinary course trading activities in securities of the Company, which may include purchases or arrangements to purchase such securities.
Neither the SEC nor any securities supervisory authority of any state or other jurisdiction in the United States has approved or disapproved the Offer or reviewed it for its fairness, nor have the contents of the Offer Document or any other documentation relating to the Offer been reviewed for accuracy, completeness or fairness by the SEC or any securities supervisory authority in the United States. Any representation to the contrary is a criminal offence in the United States.