Actis Purchases African Credit Bureau Compuscan

Actis, the London-based private equity firm and pan-emerging markets investor, said that it has established Credit Services Holdings (CSH), a buy-and-build credit services business. CSH’s first investment will be acquiring 100% of South Africa’s Compuscan, the largest independent credit bureau in Africa.

Under the transaction, which is subject to regulatory approvals, Actis will invest in CSH alongside the Compuscan management team, who will continue to manage the Compuscan business. Actis plans to invest US$100m into the platform.

To assist in the build-out of the platform, Michael Jordaan, formerly chief executive (CEO) of South Africa’s First National Bank (FNB) and a leading figure in the African financial services industry, has been appointed as chairman of CSH.

Founded by its CEO, Remo Lenisa, Compuscan is the fastest growing bureau in South Africa and one of the largest on the continent. Headquartered in Stellenbosch, with offices in Johannesburg and Kampala, it provides multiple credit data, decision analytics services and training, to over 3,500 clients including banks, telcos, retailers, microcredit institutions and insurers, across several countries including South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Uganda and Ethiopia.

The data analytics team in Compuscan operates under the Scoresharp brand and is led by Pieter Van Heerden.

“Actis is backing an excellent and entrepreneurial management team led by CEO Remo Lenisa and we are delighted to attract Michael Jordaan to help build the brand and take it to the next stage of growth,” said Jonathan Matthews, director in Actis’s Johannesburg office.

“Only 5% of adults in Africa are covered by credit bureaus compared with 64% in Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development [OECD] countries, and many countries are still without the necessary bureau infrastructure. We are excited to be investing in Compuscan and making the first steps towards bridging that gap.”

Ali Mazanderani, Actis’s Africa Financial Services lead added: “There is huge potential in the emerging market credit services industry. We see this as the first in a series of investments in the space and the natural next step after EMPH and Paycorp, in building financial infrastructure in the region.

“Credit bureaus have the potential to reduce loan interest rates as well as decrease the number of non-performing loans, while increasing financial access, credit expansion and ultimately economic growth.”

Actis has a track record of buy-and-build financial infrastructure investments. In 2010, it established Emerging Markets Payments Holdings (EMPH), which offers payment processing services across Africa and the Middle East. Today EMPH contracts with 130 banks and operates in 40 countries across the region.

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