Don Robert is one of a dwindling band of business leaders in Europe who can look forward to 2012 with some confidence. CEO of Dublin-headquartered credit and business information group Experian, Robert has surging revenue and a buoyant share price on his side. In November, Standard & Poors upgraded the credit rating of wholly owned subsidiary Experian Finance to A from BBB+, saying the unit will continue to show resilient revenue growth, despite the soft economic conditions.
The largest credit reporting firm by revenue after U.S. rivals Equifax and TransUnion, Experian emerged from the financial crisis of 200809 in good shape. The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act creates opportunities for Experian and its peers by forcing lenders to be more transparent. And a well-timed 2007 acquisition in Brazil, along with other moves to expand in Latin America, has boosted Experians revenue growth just as some mature economies have slowed.
In the six months ended September 30, revenue for London Stock Exchange-listed Experian was $2.3 billion, up 15 percent over the same period in 2010, while pretax profits climbed 20 percent, to $539 million. Having started 2011 below 700 pence ($11), the FTSE 100 companys stock now hovers around 800 pence, giving it a market capitalization of nearly £8 billion.
Experian, where U.S. expat Robert has been CEO since April 2005, is perhaps best known for helping banks check consumers credit records. Founded in 1980 as CCN Systems by current chairman Sir John Peace, it was the first British company to develop credit scoring. CCN, which began as part of U.K. retailer Great Universal Stores, was renamed Experian in 1997. Experian demerged from GUS in 2006 and now employs some 15,500 people. ....