MSE News

Credit score firm merger could be 'negative' for customers, says competition watchdog

Experian's takeover of fellow credit score firm ClearScore is likely to result in less intense competition and could hinder the development of new products, the competition watchdog has said.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) started an in-depth investigation into the proposed merger between the two firms in July, following initial concerns that the deal could have a negative impact on the services provided to customers.

After that investigation, the CMA has provisionally found the merger would substantially reduce the pressure to continue to develop innovative offers and make other improvements in services.

The CMA is consulting on its findings until 19 December and will assess all the evidence before making a final decision about whether the merger can go ahead by 11 March.

What does the CMA say?

Roland Green, the inquiry chair, said: "Our investigation has shown that this is a fast-paced and evolving market, and that both Experian and ClearScore are an important part of that.

"The provisional findings in our investigation show that Experian's proposed takeover of ClearScore is likely to weaken competition in the sector and have a negative effect on the services offered to customers."

What do Experian and ClearScore say?

An Experian spokesperson said: "Experian is disappointed by the provisional findings published today by the UK Competition and Markets Authority.

"We continue to strongly believe that the acquisition of ClearScore will have a positive impact on competition, allowing Experian to help more consumers with their finances by providing greater choice and convenience to them to access personal finance products at the best prices.

"We also believe we will be able innovate more and better through the combination of the parties' complementary assets and innovation cultures. We will continue to engage constructively with the CMA over the weeks ahead to seek to address its concerns ahead of publication of the CMA's final report early in the New Year."

ClearScore chief executive and co-founder Justin Basini said: "We're disappointed in the CMA provisional findings, but remain confident the deal will be approved, not least because of recent developments in the UK's dynamic financial comparison market.

"We will continue to build a world-class business that remains totally focused on serving our millions of users around the world, helping them get a grip of their finances and use their financial data to access the widest possible range of great deals."