Credit information agency Experian has acquired an initial 65% stake in Serasa, a bank-owned credit bureau based in Brazil, for $1.2 billion.
Ireland-based Experian says it will increase its holding in Serasa to 70% over the next six months.
The stake was acquired from the consortium of banks that own Serasa - Bradesco, Itau, Unibanco, ABN Amro, Banco Santander and HSBC.
The acquisition gives Experian control of the biggest credit bureau in the largest economy in South America. Serasa is the fourth largest credit bureau in the world, and is the largest credit bureau outside the US.
Founded in 1968 Serasa has a database of 161 million Brazilian consumer records and five million Brazilian company records. Consumer credit activities account for 60% of group sales and commercial activities for 40%. Serasa has over 2200 employees, operating across over 80 locations, including all Brazilian state capitals and major cities.
Experian says it will benefit from the growth in demand for credit in Brazil. Don Robert, chief executive of Experian, adds that the acquisition represents a "unique and transformational opportunity".
"It propels us to a market leading position in one of the most attractive growth markets for credit products globally," says Robert. "It fits our strategic objectives of owning market-leading credit bureaux in key markets around the world and of expansion into exciting emerging economies."
Experian, which was spun off from GUS plc last year, says the transaction is expected to complete by the end of June.