Experian, ClearScore scrap merger plans

(Reuters) - Experian Plc, the world’s biggest credit data firm, said on Wednesday that it had agreed with rival ClearScore to abandon their proposed merger, after Britain’s competition watchdog indicated that it may block the deal.

“Taking into account subsequent interaction with the CMA (Competition and Markets Authority), Experian does not believe that the CMA will approve the proposed acquisition of ClearScore on satisfactory terms,” Experian said in a statement.

The CMA had warned in November that the 275 million pound ($364.35 million) deal could stifle development of digital products that help customers understand personal finances.

Experian, a FTSE 100 company, wanted to expand in Britain with the purchase of ClearScore, which provides free access to credit reports and scores, and introduces consumers to personal financial products.

The competition watchdog said in an email that it had canceled its merger investigation into the deal.

Experian, which had chosen not to offer proposals to address the regulator’s concerns, had said it would engage with them ahead of the publication of the CMA’s final report.

The watchdog had said in July that it would open a more in-depth probe into the acquisition after its initial investigation identified concerns that the merged company would be less likely to innovate to help people better understand their finances, potentially leading to them paying more for credit cards and loans.

CMA had found that Experian and ClearScore were the two top credit-checking firms in Britain and compete with each other.

Experian and its rivals - Equifax Inc and TransUnion - generate credit reports and scores based on consumers’ borrowing and payment habits, including bankruptcies and court judgments.

($1 = 0.7548 pounds)

Reporting by Noor Zainab Hussain in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernard Orr