The proposed takeover of payment processor First Data by fintech firm Fiserv has secured the green light from the UK Competition and Markets Authority.

The watchdog said that it has decided “not to refer the following merger to a Phase 2 investigation under the provisions of the Enterprise Act 2002”.

The all-stock deal, valued at $22bn, was announced this January.

At that time, Fiserv president and CEO Jeffery Yabuki said: “We expect the combined company to retain our current investment-grade ratings based on our strong financial profile and excellent free cash flow.

“Together, this should provide the basis for continued disciplined capital allocation, including debt repayment and share repurchase.

“We look forward to welcoming First Data’s talented associates to Fiserv as we drive the global digitisation of payments and financial technology services.”

Shareholders of Fiserv will hold a 57.5% stake in the merged group, with the remainder owned by First Data shareholders.

The First Data-Fiserv deal was the first in a series of several high profile payment deals this year.

Other deals include the acquisition of payment processor Worldpay by FIS for $43bn and Global Payments’ takeover of TSYS for $21.5bn.

Other key deals this year include UnitedHealth Group’s acquisition of healthcare payments firm Equian in a $3.2bn transaction and Allied Wallet’s acquisition of Epayment.