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Banking Mergers and Acquisitions in the EU: Overview, Assessment and Prospects


  • Morten Balling


  • Rym Ayadi
  • Georges Pujals


This paper aims at providing a complete picture of banking mergers and acquisitions (M&As) in Europe during the 1990s and at offering economic evaluation and strategic analyses of the process. The main characteristics of this process in the 1990s were the emergence of " mega banks" at the national scale, a slight increase of cross-border transactions and the emergence of few large pan-European financial groups. Building on an extensive review of the US and EU literature, we examine the impact of M&As in European banking on profitability and efficiency, considering the breakdown between domestic and cross-border transactions. We first proceed with the profitability analysis of distinct completed M&As cases with different industrial strategies (based on the geographical dimension of the transaction and the initial activities of the merging banks). We find that domestic mergers contribute to cut costs for both partners, whereas, for the majority of cases studies, including domestic and cross-border mergers and acquisitions, the impact on profitability is insignificant, but a clear trend to diversify the sources of revenues was apparent. The cost and profit efficiency analysis based on 33 bank-to-bank mergers, confirmed an improvement of cost efficiency and little improvement of profit efficiency for domestic transactions; whereas, no improvement of costefficiency and a little improvement of profit efficiency for cross-border transactions. These results imply that domestic banking mergers in Europe fulfilled their objective to cut costs whereas they failed to achieve revenues synergies; cross-border mergers instead, were proved to better exploit from revenues synergies more likely due to geographical diversification. Against this background, we provide the main prospective scenarios for banking consolidation in the medium term after examining the state of concentration and competition in the domestic banking markets and the role of the regulatory changes and remaining obstacles to a full European banking integration. Finally, we raise the main strategic challenges ahead banking institutions in terms of business models - Universal, multi specialised or specialised banking, optimal size, growth strategies - M&As or partnerships - and the prospects offered by the new Basel capital Accord. A first appraisal suggests: a) a natural coexistence of different business models, each one having its specific characteristics and responding to individual needs, b) the optimal size is not synonym of a larger size and a larger size is not an absolute criterion of profitability and efficiency, c) M&As are not the only alternative to banking consolidation, and d) finally Basel II is redefining the rules of the game to European banking, but it is rather premature to make a final and exhaustive assessment in this respect.

Suggested Citation

  • Rym Ayadi & Georges Pujals, 2005. "Banking Mergers and Acquisitions in the EU: Overview, Assessment and Prospects," SUERF Studies, SUERF - The European Money and Finance Forum, number 2005/3 edited by Morten Balling, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:erf:erfstu:36

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Sharpe, William F., 1967. "Portfolio Analysis," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 2(02), pages 76-84, June.
    2. Altunbas, Y. & Gardener, E. P. M. & Molyneux, P. & Moore, B., 2001. "Efficiency in European banking," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 45(10), pages 1931-1955, December.
    3. Peristiani, Stavros, 1997. "Do Mergers Improve the X-Efficiency and Scale Efficiency of U.S. Banks? Evidence from the 1980s," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 29(3), pages 326-337, August.
    4. David C. Wheelock & Paul W. Wilson, 1995. "Evaluating the efficiency of commercial banks: does our view of what banks do matter?," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Jul, pages 39-52.
    5. Resti, Andrea, 1998. "Regulation Can Foster Mergers, Can Mergers Foster Efficiency? The Italian Case," Journal of Economics and Business, Elsevier, vol. 50(2), pages 157-169, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Clements Adeyinka Akinsoyinu, 2015. "Efficiency Evaluation of European Financial Cooperative Sector. A Data Envelopment Analysis Approach," International Journal of Academic Research in Accounting, Finance and Management Sciences, Human Resource Management Academic Research Society, International Journal of Academic Research in Accounting, Finance and Management Sciences, vol. 5(4), pages 11-21, October.
    2. Goddard, John & Molyneux, Philip & Wilson, John O.S. & Tavakoli, Manouche, 2007. "European banking: An overview," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 31(7), pages 1911-1935, July.
    3. Lee, Tung-Hao & Chih, Shu-Hwa, 2013. "Does financial regulation affect the profit efficiency and risk of banks? Evidence from China's commercial banks," The North American Journal of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 26(C), pages 705-724.
    4. Coccorese, Paolo, 2012. "Banks as ‘fat cats’: Branching and price decisions in a two-stage model of competition," Journal of Economics and Business, Elsevier, vol. 64(5), pages 338-363.
    5. Claudia M. Buch & Gayle L. DeLong, 2008. "Banking Globalization: International Consolidation and Mergers in Banking," IAW Discussion Papers 38, Institut für Angewandte Wirtschaftsforschung (IAW).

    More about this item


    Banking mergers and acquisitions; profitability; efficiency; market power; concentration; competition; banking model; Universal banking; diversification; specialisation; Basel II.;

    JEL classification:

    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages
    • G28 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Government Policy and Regulation
    • G34 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Mergers; Acquisitions; Restructuring; Corporate Governance


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