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
Roughly one third of the companys $4 billion in
fiscal 2010 revenue came from financial institutions, with
consumers making up another third. In the U.K. and the U.S.,
Experian keeps records on about 45 million and
215 million adults, respectively, including electoral roll
details and loan default and bankruptcy information. This data
has many applications. For example, consumers use it to check
their own credit ratingsa growing business these days.
Meanwhile, the British government turns to Experian to help it
detect housing and disability benefits fraud. The company also
works with telecommunications businesses and other utilities to
help assess their customers financial positions.