Experian expands Latin American presence

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The Independent Online

Experian is to expand its Latin American footprint by purchasing a majority stake in a leading Colombian credit information services firm.

The FTSE 100-listed credit information group, which is already active in Brazil, has agreed to buy into Computec, which owns Colombia's most extensive credit behaviour database. The deal, which will see Experian offer 10,419 Colombian pesos, or about 354p, for each Computec share, values the whole business at about £240m.

As well as Colombia, Computec owns the only credit bureau in Venezuela, and an early-stage operation in Peru.

"The acquisition of a controlling stake will further strengthen Experian's Latin American presence, building on the leading market position Experian has established in Brazil," the company said yesterday as it announced the deal. Analysts agreed, with Seymour Pierce labelling the move "a sensible strategic step".

"Computec owns Datacredito, the largest credit bureau in Colombia, with an estimated 60 per cent market share, significantly larger than the second major player, Cifin," the broker said. "The rationale for the acquisition is, in our view, sound."

The broker added: "Experian is acquiring a sizeable bureau operator in a growing market. Indeed, Colombia is expected to see rapid growth in retail credit in the mid- to high teens, supported by a growing consumer economy and a low debt-to-GDP ratio, which stands at 33 per cent versus a world average of above 80 per cent, underlining the potential for further growth."

The deal is subject to regulatory clearances, and is expected to be completed in the second half of the year.