GMT reaps return from credit information company

GMT’s sale of Finland’s largest credit information company to Investcorp provides the first exit for the communications specialist’s €350 million fund raised last year.

GMT Communications Partners, a European communications specialist buyout firm, has sold Asiakastieto, the largest business and credit information company in Finland, to Investcorp. Terms were undisclosed, but GMT said in a statement it had delivered an internal rate of return of 70 percent in less than two years.

Tim Green, a managing partner at GMT, said the company was the first acquisition and the first exit from its latest fund, which had its final close last year on €350 million ($550.7 million).

Green said his firm had helped the company bolster its marketing and pursue organic growth by expanding the company’s range of products, while backing management.

It is understood GMT bought Asiakastieto in July 2006 for €100 million.

Net sales for 2007 were €25.7 million, up 24 percent on 2006, reflecting an increase of 20 percent per annum during GMT’s ownership, according to a statement. The firm’s profits were undisclosed, but GMT said EBITDA had risen by 31 percent between 2006 and 2008.

Asiakastieto is Finland’s largest provider of business and credit information, with a 74 percent market share and 23,000 customers, including large financial institutions and telecoms operators. 

It primarily provides information to banks, wholesalers and retailers in support of credit and purchasing decisions. Asiakastieto is the sole owner of the most comprehensive business and credit information database in Finland.
 
Green said: “In common with the industry as a whole we’re watching very carefully developments in the economy as a whole. We’re confident there’s still debt available in the mid-market and we’re pleased to see and cognisant of a sensible pricing market returning.” He said mid-market valuations had not been so over-inflated as the larger buyout market in 2006 and 2007.

The communications sector is regarded by many market commentators as vulnerable to a downturn. But Green said: “A small part of what we do is in advertising driven media. It will be a concern that advertising revenues will fall for that part of our business, as historically this has corresponded to GDP, but our view is it’s a cyclical change and provided you understand the cycle, buy good businesses and don’t overleverage companies [there will be opportunities].”  

Rothschild advised GMT on the transaction and Weil, Gotshal & Manges provided legal advice to GMT.