ALEX BRUMMER: like-for-like mergers are too often the standard position of unimaginative executives

Together: it is difficult to understand how a merger between SSE and Npower will contribute to a better deal for consumers

By switching, the British energy market has become more competitive. But it is difficult to understand how a merger between the retail division of the British SSE and the German controlled Npower, which reduces the big six to the big five, will contribute to a better deal for the consumer.

Regulator The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has devised with gobbledegook how little overlap there is between customers of the two on the standard variable rate.

Perhaps, but creating a new colossus with 23 percent of the market, just behind the 27 percent at British Gas, does not predict well.

Together: it is difficult to understand how a merger between SSE and Npower will contribute to a better deal for consumers

Together: it is difficult to understand how a merger between SSE and Npower will contribute to a better deal for consumers

Large mergers take years to settle down, are focused on cost savings and bring increasing distance between supplier and customer, leading to poorer service.

What makes this CMA judgment even more difficult is the ownership structure. SSE is the dominant investor in the extensive supplier and plans to distribute shares to existing shareholders.

But there is a second phase in the deal that the CMA did not consider worthy of attention. If RWE, parent of Innogy / Npower, went through a complex asset swap with another large German utility Eon, then future ownership and control could be further removed.

The negative impact of allowing UK energy suppliers to move overseas was demonstrated when RWE and Eon withdrew from the promise to be investors in the Horizon project for new nuclear facilities in the United Kingdom, because Berlin was caught on nuclear bombs after the Fukushima disaster in Japan in 2011.

The CMA has found that the number of people who change their energy supplier is the highest in a decade. This is of course a good thing, as is evident from the diminishing number of British Gas customers.

But it is suspected that there is a universe of older and less affluent consumers who will never switch in the same way that they do not change their home and car insurance or bank accounts.

There is a suspicion about the sustainability of newcomers. Online transactions are often difficult and established players become more familiar. The idea that consumers must have new owners who are forced on them will also be unpleasant.

The record of the CMA when checking big acquisitions is dodgy. It is known that it has signed the mobile acquisition by BT van EE, as a result of which the former played a dominant role in British telecom.

At the same time, the European Commission blocked a merger between O2 and Hutchison-controlled three.

O2 increased his playing, became a digital innovator and this week revealed the most transparent and flexible pricing structure in the industry. Like-for-like mergers are too often the standard position of unimaginative executives.

Circle the cars

There is much talk about the fact that Britain is a fintech leader. But potential British champions come and go with extraordinary haste.

Worldpay lost its status when it fell into the hands of the American competitor Vantiv.

Wonga promised to be the Facebook of payday loans and is on his way to the knacker's yard. Funding Circle, the crowdfunding platform that specializes in lending to small businesses, is planning to float next month. One goal is to increase to £ 300 million to support growth in Germany and the US.

It has grown by leaps and bounds under Samir Desai, accelerated borrowing for smaller companies and attracted money from the British government.

Some analysts may wonder how the model will run in a recession. It has carried out a number of rigorous stress tests and is of the opinion that it can cope if up to three times the current number of bad loans goes wrong.

A bigger question is: what happens when trust is low and money backers / depositors all want their money back at the same time?

The ambition of Funding Circle is admirable and financiers have achieved great results. A concern must be that it is removed by Silicon Valley before it reaches its full potential.

Do not cry for me

Plutocrat Paul Singer of Elliott is notorious for his legal pursuit of an investment in standard Argentine bonds.

There are currently some rich plucking. The banking rate of Argentina has reached 60 percent, the peso is in free fall and the return on annuity bonds has been increased to 29 percent.

An attempt by Madame Lagarde of the IMF to come to rescue has not yet achieved any traction. Yikes!

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