Private equity group Actis to buy South African credit bureau

JOHANNESBURG Thu Apr 24, 2014 7:25am EDT

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JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Emerging markets private equity firm Actis said it would invest in South African credit bureau Compuscan, in its latest deal in the financial services industry on the fast-growing continent.

Bankers say the lack of credit bureaus in sub-Saharan Africa has limited many consumers' access to loans. Without credit data on potential borrowers, banks are more reluctant to lend because they are unable to accurately price loans.

Actis said it saw the deal as the "first in a series of investments" in the industry.

Under the deal, Actis has established a company, Credit Services Holdings, which will acquire all of Compuscan. Actis will then invest in Credit Services Holdings along with management of Compuscan.

Privately owned Compuscan operates in six sub-Saharan countries, including South Africa, Uganda and Ethiopia, Actis said in a statement on Thursday. Only 5 percent of African adults are covered by credit bureaus, compared with 64 percent in developed countries, it added.

Actis did not give details on the size or terms of the deal or what percent of Credit Services Holdings it would acquire.

Michael Jordaan, previously the head of the retail unit of South African bank FirstRand (FSRJ.J), will be chairman of Credit Services Holdings, it said.

Last year London-based Actis paid $95 million for the payments and ATM business of South Africa's Transaction Capital (TCPJ.J), targeting the growth of debit cards and electronic payments among millions of low-income shoppers.

(Reporting by David Dolan; editing by Jane Baird)

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