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Sberbank Faces Antitrust Probe in Russia Over Mortgage Bundling Practices

 |  December 5, 2023

Russia’s Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) has launched an investigation into Sberbank, the nation’s largest lender, over allegations of potential breaches of antitrust laws. The probe centers on the bank’s bundling of Domclick Plus packages, featuring SberStrakhovanie insurance products, with its mortgage offerings, prompting concerns that the mandatory packages may be stifling market competition.

The FAS initiated the inquiry in response to a series of consumer complaints, asserting that Sberbank’s practice of linking insurance products with mortgages may undermine fair competition within the financial sector.

One key aspect under scrutiny is the bank’s strategy of offering discounts on mortgage rates to customers who opt for the bundled Domclick Plus packages. While such incentives are common in the industry, the FAS is investigating whether this particular approach aligns with competitive market principles or if it tilts the playing field in a way that could be considered anti-competitive.

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The investigation extends its focus to both Sberbank and its subsidiary, Sberbank Life Insurance, intending to determine if their joint efforts to make Domclick Plus packages a mandatory component of mortgage deals amount to anti-competitive behavior.

Sberbank, which holds a dominant position in the Russian banking sector, has not commented on the ongoing investigation. The FAS, however, is actively assessing the evidence and seeking to ensure that market dynamics remain open and fair for all players.

In a parallel development, another major player in the Russian financial landscape, Alfa-Bank, is also facing scrutiny. The FAS is reviewing Alfa-Bank for potential violations of advertising regulations, marking a simultaneous effort to maintain a level playing field across the industry.

Source: Investing