Credit agency: Savings banks and comrades want to exercise the right of first refusal with Schufa

Schufa in Berlin

With an annual turnover of more than 200 million euros and an operating margin of almost a third, Schufa is highly profitable.

(Photo: dpa)

Frankfurt According to financial circles, the German savings banks and cooperative banks want to increase their stake in the credit agency Schufa. By exercising their right of first refusal, they could prevent a share sale to the holding company EQT.

The savings banks and cooperative banks, which together hold 47 percent of the Schufa shares, are in talks about buying a share of almost ten percent from the major French bank Société Générale, said five people familiar with the matter.

EQT was targeting the package and had already reached an exclusive agreement with Société Générale. The Schufa was valued at more than two billion euros. The corresponding project became known in mid-October. Savings banks and cooperative banks had already indicated at the time that they definitely wanted to keep their shares.

One of the people said it could be possible to agree on an acquisition by cooperative banks and savings banks at the beginning of next year. EQT as well as the German Savings Banks and Giro Association and the cooperative team bank, which holds a larger stake in Schufa, declined to comment.

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Schufa data is of great importance for banks

For the credit business of the savings banks and cooperative banks, the data on the creditworthiness of customers, which Schufa collects, is of great importance. The Schufa data are firmly integrated into the banking systems. The savings banks have 35 million and the cooperative banks 26 million private checking accounts.

While EQT is aiming to align Schufa internationally and to make it a European platform, the savings banks and cooperative banks wanted to stick to their previous orientation. From the point of view of the financial institutions, it would be problematic, for example, if Schufa made the customer data available to other companies, such as payment service providers.

Société Générale’s sales plans had caused a lot of discussion among the other Schufa owners. The purchase of the shares would only have been the first step for EQT, which should be followed by the purchase of a majority. With the plan of the savings banks and cooperative banks, that is now likely to fail.

EQT had already contacted other Schufa shareholders. Commerzbank holds 12.3 percent, the Crédit Mutuel subsidiary Targobank 11.3 percent and Deutsche Bank 6.3 percent.

Almost half a million inquiries a day

With an annual turnover of more than 200 million euros and an operating margin of almost a third, Schufa is highly profitable. However, the company is not part of the core business of most shareholders.

The core business of credit agencies like Schufa is to evaluate people’s creditworthiness. They sell their information to companies and private individuals – such as banks, landlords or mobile phone providers.

If a consumer wants to take out a loan, rent an apartment or buy a smartphone with a contract, the credit bureaus provide their customers with a so-called score value within a few seconds. At Schufa, it is between zero and 100. The lower the value, the worse it assesses the consumer’s creditworthiness.

The credit bureau provides an average of 490,000 pieces of information to other companies every day, according to the credit agency’s website. Your database now includes more than a billion pieces of information on 68 million people and six million companies. This makes Schufa, which employs 900 people at six locations, the largest German credit agency.

More: Financial investor EQT joins Schufa.

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