ClearScore returns “to Plan A” after Experian’s £275m takeover dreams are dashed

By Oliver Smith on Thursday 28 February 2019

Digital Banking

The UK's No.1 and No.2 credit agencies won't be merging anytime soon.

ClearScore returns “to Plan A” after Experian’s £275m takeover dreams are dashed
Image source: ClearScore

In a shock blow to ClearScore and its investor Blenheim Chalcot, global credit data giant Experian yesterday scrapped its £275m takeover of the rival credit scoring agency.

The deal, which has been under scrutiny by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) since it was announced last March, has looked increasingly uncertain as the months have dragged on. 

In November the CMA warned the deal: “could stifle product development and impact customers.”

Experian therefore yesterday decided to pull out of the takeover, rather than risk being rejected in the coming months.

Experian does not believe that the CMA will approve the proposed acquisition of ClearScore on satisfactory terms, despite the dynamism and competitive nature of the market, and the customer benefits arising from the proposed transaction,” said Experian.

The deal at the time would have seen the No.1 and No.2 credit agencies in the UK combine, a fact that drew notable criticism from the industry.

ClearScore CEO and cofounder Justin Basini said it would be a “return to Plan A” for the company, which will now focus on offering more financial products and deals to its customers by partnering with various providers.

Blenheim Chalcot, whose partner Dan Cobley is speaking at AltFi’s London Summit on 18 March, founded ClearScore in 2015.

Now, rather than merging with its rival, ClearScore will have to contend with additional competition from Experian which said yesterday in the wake of the failed takeover:

“Over the next year we plan to bring exciting new innovations to market which will help consumers address their needs across their financial lives, while also investing in new areas to further broaden our offering.”

In many ways that statement confirms the CMA’s concerns, without the ability to buy up its smaller, more popular rival, Experian will now have to innovate and compete.

A challenging day for the FTSE 100-listed £17bn company, but maybe even more so for ClearScore.

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