TransUnion expands into Europe with $1.4 billion Callcredit deal

(Reuters) - U.S. credit reporting agency TransUnion TRU.N on Friday said it will buy UK consumer data provider Callcredit for 1 billion pounds ($1.4 billion) from private equity firm GTCR, expanding its operations into Europe for the first time.

The deal comes at a time when credit-checking services are growing, in response to the proliferation of non-traditional lenders to consumers, such as payday loan providers and online lenders.

The addition of Leeds-based Callcredit, the second-largest credit reporting firm in Britain, would help bolster TransUnion’s international business, according to a statement from the Chicago-headquartered company.

Shares in TransUnion, which has operations in North and Latin America, Africa and Asia, were up 9.8 percent at $66.48 at 12.30 p.m. EDT (1630 GMT), having hit a lifetime high earlier in the session, on the back of the acquisition and first-quarter earnings which exceeded expectations.

The purchase of Callcredit was for cash, according to a separate statement from GTCR. The private equity firm had originally bought the company in 2014, with sources at the time indicating a purchase price of around 480 million pounds.

“This was very much a bilateral transaction. Three or four other firms might have met with the CEO (of Callcredit), but this was very much a deal where there was a logical buyer from the start,” Aaron Cohen, managing director at GTCR, told Reuters in an interview.

The deal is expected to close late in the second quarter or early in the third quarter pending regulatory approval, TransUnion said.

Jefferies, Credit Suisse and Evercore acted as financial advisers to Callcredit, with Kirkland & Ellis LLP providing legal assistance, according to GTCR’s statement.

Reporting by David French in New York and Aparajita Saxena in Bengaluru; Editing by Tom Brown