Source: Equifax Inc.
Equifax Inc. (NYSE: EFX), a global leader in information solutions, announced today it has agreed to acquire a 28 percent equity stake in Global Payments Credit Services LLC (GPCS), a leading credit information company in Russia, from Global Payments Europe, s.r.o., a subsidiary of Global Payments Inc. (NYSE: GPN), and Home Credit and Finance Bank of Russia (Home Credit).
Pending regulatory approval, Equifax will re-brand the company and assume responsibility for its operations. Based on meeting certain conditions in the Shareholder Agreement, Equifax will have the ability to acquire up to 50 percent, the current legal limit for any owner.
Equifax's plans for Russia reflect its execution against the company's stated strategy to expand into the four targeted geographies of India, Russia, China and Mexico, where the company can leverage technology, data assets and analytics to help customers make critical business decisions in growing markets. Equifax today operates in 14 countries in North America, Latin America and Europe, and recently announced its intent to enter India pending regulatory approvals.
Global Payments Europe and Home Credit have operated GPCS as a joint venture since acquiring the company in 2005. Global Payments Europe is the leading provider of cashless payment services for corporate clients in the Czech Republic and also provides services to clients in Central and Eastern Europe and the Russian Federation. Home Credit is the market leader in consumer finance in the Russian Federation and is committed to continue investing in its expansion in Russia by building new regional branches, bringing modern loan products and providing superb service to its customers. It is a subsidiary of Home Credit B.V., a Netherlands based holding company.
"The growth in credit in the Russian economy provides a significant opportunity for Equifax to assist Russian financial institutions seeking a competitive advantage from credit information, analytics and value added services," said Trey Loughran, Senior Vice President, Corporate Development, for Equifax. "We are thrilled to be working with Global Payments Europe and Home Credit, established leaders in the Russia market with a considerable amount of experience and understanding of the Russian credit economy. We fully expect that the combination of expertise from these established leaders and Equifax will allow Equifax Russia to be the leading provider of credit information solutions in Russia."
In just three years, GPCS has built a database to include nearly 20 million records on over 14 million individuals from more than 50 data providers under contract. This makes GPCS a leading credit bureau in Russia, according to the Central Catalog of Credit Histories, the regulator of credit bureaus for the Russian Federation. Russia's thriving economy has resulted in a fast-growing credit market - from mortgages and auto loans to express loans. The Russian household lending market grew 75 percent in 2006 alone, to approximately US$32.5 billion. Retail lending as a percentage of GDP is 8 percent, versus approximately 100 percent in the United States and 50 percent in Germany, indicating a significant potential for future credit growth. Russia's middle class has expanded considerably as monthly wages have doubled in the last three years and annual economic growth has hovered near 7 percent since 1999. Recent legislation requiring Russian financial institutions to share data with at least one credit bureau has accelerated the credit information market in Russia and has allowed independent credit bureaus like GPCS to develop larger and more accurate data sets.
"We have managed to build a credit bureau with the largest database in Russia in just a few short years," said Stanislav Coufal, Chairman of the Board for GPCS. "We believe that our strong market position will be reinforced by our new partnership with Equifax. Combining our large, high quality database with Equifax's technologies should make for a winning combination. We are looking forward to not only solidifying our leading credit bureau position, but also to accelerating its growth."
Pavel Vyhnalek, the Group Chief Risk Officer for the Home Credit Group commented, "As Russia builds one of the world's strongest economies, Home Credit as well as other lenders depend on a comprehensive and reliable credit reporting system to meet a skyrocketing appetite of individuals and families to purchase consumer goods and to keep loan portfolios within the targeted risk profile. In order to widen its recent customer base, Home Credit needs to partner with a strong, experienced and flexible provider of reliable credit assessment and customer verification that allows the bank to offer various lending products, including credit cards, across different consumer segments in Russia. As the world's leading credit reporting company, Equifax brings the necessary products, technologies and experience to build upon the foundation we created."