Schufa Owners Said to Eye Sale of German Credit Score Firm

Schufa Holding AG, the German equivalent to the FICO credit score firm in the the U.S., is exploring a sale, according to people familiar with the matter.

The company’s owners, which include Deutsche Bank AG and Commerzbank AG, have already held talks with private equity suitors EQT AB and Hellman & Friedman about a potential deal, the people said. Schufa could be valued at more than 2 billion euros ($2.3 billion) in any sale, the people said, asking not to be identified discussing confidential information.

Discussions about a sale were triggered by an initial approach from EQT, the people said. Talks are in the early stages and there’s no certainty they’ll lead to a transaction, according to the people. Some of Schufa’s owners have in the past held talks with potential buyers, to no avail, one of the people said.

Representatives for Commerzbank, Deutsche Bank, EQT and Schufa declined to comment, while a spokesperson for Hellman & Friedman couldn’t be reached for comment.

Wiesbaden, Germany-based Schufa is a household name in Europe’s largest economy, providing credit scores to people seeking financing for everything from cars to mobile phones. It was founded in 1927 to help companies share their payment experiences of customers with each other.

The possibility of a company that holds such sensitive information falling into private equity ownership could cause concern among German citizens and politicians, who are generally concerned about the ownership of their data. While private equity investors play a major role in the German economy, they have not always been popular among politicians in the country.

EQT has a track record of investing in Germany, with its portfolio companies including broadband provider Deutsche Glasfaser and hand sanitizer producer Schuelke. In December, it agreed to sell Germany-based facilities manager Apleona Group GmbH to PAI Partners. The firm has been one of the most active private equity acquirers in Europe during the last 12 months, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Schufa group serves more than 67 million Germans and 6 million companies and generates revenue of about 212.2 million euros, according to its website. It is owned by commercial, savings and mutual banks as well as some retail companies. Since 2004, Schufa has also offered business information about companies.

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