AZ InfoCollection on mergermarket.com
24/03/2016 AZ InfoCollection receptive to approaches from suitors, could sell majority stake – chairman
Story: AZ InfoCollection, a privately owned, Italian credit servicing company, is reviewing its growth strategy, according to Chairman Antonino Restino.
The management is considering several options, including a listing on the Italian stock exchange or taking on board a private equity investor; it could also sell a majority stake to a larger industrial group, Restino said.
The company is receptive to buyside advisor pitches and direct approaches from bidders.
Recently, the company has been approached by a strategic suitor, the entrepreneur said, noting that AZ is “studying its offer”. Talks were described as being in very early stages. Approaches from other interested parties would be considered, Restino stated, noting that ideal investor would be a strategic player potentially taking a 40-49% stake in the company.
Bids for a majority could also be considered, if the investor’s focus is connected to the company’s growth strategy. Favourite suitors would be well managed financial services companies with a good track record in the industry. Ideally, AZ InfoCollection would like to talk with rivals that hold all the financial services in its value chain, from credit supply to debt collection.
Although Restino did not spell out a potential valuation, he noted that AZ InfoCollection has strong growth, reached organically. Management expects to generate revenue of EUR 25m in 2018 with 40% EBITDA, Restino said. Its turnover was EUR 8.3m in 2015, with EBITDA of 30.5%.
Having taken investors onboard, the company would subsequently work towards an IPO, to be executed in the next five years, the chairman said. He described the IPO as an appealing option to raise its reputation internationally.
The company expects business opportunities to grow between 2016 and 2018, as several European countries could be attractive regions for its expansion. Firstly, AZ InfoCollection aims to expand its services in Europe, tapping into Greece, which was described as potentially very appealing due to the extent of non-performing loans (NPLs) held by Greek banks.
Non-performing loans constitute the single most important problem for Greek banks, Restino said, noting that this is an opportunity for AZ InfoCollection’s core business. Recently, JP Morgan analysts have warned investors that falling interest rates in the Eurozone will put more pressure on the banking sector, giving the banks less revenue with which to offset losses incurred on bad loans.
The AZ InfoCollection group was founded in 1974 in Naples by Antonino Restino, as A-Zeta srl, a business and private investigation and information search company, according to the company’s website. Today, it provides a wide range of different financial services including investigation and insurance anti-fraud corporate investigation, stewarding and event security, welcome services, security technology and credit collection. Major competitors include Lince, Cosmos and Cerved. Its clients are Italian insurance firms, banks, consumer credit companies, credit servicers, financiers, distressed asset funds, legal firms, large corporations, utilities companies and SMEs.
In May 2014 it joined the important Elite circuit, a three-phase programme organised by the Italian Stock Exchange, to help SMEs prepare for listing.
AZ InfoCollection has a workforce of 150 and 50 consultants. The company headquarters are in Naples, and it has offices in Milan and Rome.
by Micaela Osella in Milan