Equifax

Jeff Immelt, the former CEO of GE, described Mark Begor as a “turnaround” guy, after tapping him up to lead GE Capital’s loss making real estate business in 2011. This Begor did, glossing a thirty-five year career at the company before packing his bags and turning his arm over in Private Equity. Begor is now the CEO of Equifax and at a recent Baird conference he was fizzing. Analysts left the virtual conference missing a fist full of free pens, but with the impression that it was the most bullish they had seen Begor for some time. Equifax is a peach. And yet when Begor took the helm the company was still wearing the spray of a large scale data breach when cyber-crooks ran off with the personal details of almost 150m US consumers. The headlines quickly trashed the multiple. Now data breaches are never good, more so if your business is data. Indeed, Equifax is all about data. Data and analytics. The company sells the data to banks, governments, corporates and individuals who then use the data to help make decisions on anything from auto loans to credit card applications and mortgages. Important stuff. Indeed it is a crucial part of the plumbing for the whole banking system. There is also a workforce solutions business that allows corporates to outsource some payroll and HR functions. And these two businesses are the real deal, with oligopolistic colours and juicy margins. Wet-lipped analysts left the Baird conference wondering what the right multiple is for such a business; it’s obviously a high one, the question is how high.