Experian to acquire ClearScore for £275 million

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Experian has announced plans to acquire UK credit startup ClearScore for £275 million, plus an unspecified earnout based on future performance.

ClearScore was founded in July 2015 and was the first company to provide totally free credit checks and scores to consumers in the UK. The business makes money from commission on products sold to customers who get their checks done.

ClearScore provided its credit score updates and financial ‘health check’ in real time and, more importantly, free of charge, banking on the premise that if they could provide this one service better and cheaper than the legacy players, it would be enough to bring in more business through its recommendation engine.

Services that it tailored to your own finances included credit cards, loans and car financing, and every time a user ends up purchasing one of those products, ClearScore gets an affiliate cut.

Despite still being a startup, ClearScore already has over 6 million customers in the UK and the business is on track for revenue of $55 million this year, according to Experian. ClearScore also has operations in South Africa, where it serves 200,000 customers.

For calendar year 2018, ClearScore is on track to generate revenue of c. US$55m, an increase of c.50% on 2017, with strong growth continuing in calendar 2019.

The EBIT contribution to Experian is expected to be neutral in calendar 2018, rising to a c.US$20m contribution in calendar 2019, before integration costs.

EBIT progression is expected to be underpinned by significant cost synergies on integration with the Experian business, amounting to approximately US$25m per annum.

On completion, ClearScore will be included within UK Consumer Services.

ClearScore CEO Justin Basini said,

Earlier today we announced that we intend to be acquired by Experian. Many of you will know Experian, given that they are the world’s biggest credit information company. This acquisition still needs to be approved by the authorities which we expect to happen later this year.

At ClearScore, we are focused on you, our user, and this won’t change. You will always be able to see your credit report and score for free, forever with ClearScore. We will continue to innovate and focus on giving you the knowledge you need to make better financial decisions and make the process of choosing financial products radically quicker, simpler and easier. We will continue to operate under the brand ClearScore.

I believe that this acquisition will allow us to grow faster and develop exciting new innovations that will deliver improved financial well-being to you, our current users, in the UK and South Africa, and hopefully millions more around the world.

Experian plans to keep the ClearScore branding, and free! It is highly likely that we will see Experian looking to roll out ClearScore’s services and recommendation engine to a wider set of its current users, not just in the UK but further afield.

Experian CEO Brian Cassin said the deal was part of his company’s “strategy to extend the services we provide to UK consumers.

“In acquiring ClearScore, we will take another important step in our strategy to extend the services we provide to UK consumers. Our goal is to provide more choice and greater convenience to individuals who want access to personal financial products at the best prices, while also making it easier for credit providers to offer better, more tailored offers to consumers.

We look forward to welcoming the ClearScore team to Experian and to including the ClearScore brand as part of our broader offer.”

The transaction is subject to regulatory approval by the Competition & Markets Authority and the Financial Conduct Authority, as well as other customary closing conditions, and will be funded from Experian’s existing committed bank facilities.

It is expected to close later in 2018 and to be accretive to Benchmark earnings in the first full fiscal year of ownership.


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