Dun & Bradstreet, the US-based global private company information provider, is exploring a sale, according to “sources familiar with the matter”. The company was established in 1841, provides records on 212 million companies globally and became publicly traded in 1998. D&B, as the company is widely known, has become synonymous for many organisations and people who are trying to find information on private companies, or check the creditworthiness of their customers and suppliers. While not as well-known as Thomson Reuters or Bloomberg, D&B’s primary set of private company data is significantly more difficult to collect than public company data where information is readily and freely available as a result of public firms’ filing requirements being fairly consistent across the world.
Disclosure requirements for private companies vary considerably, with the level of data that they have to reveal ranging from very detailed in countries such as the UK, to pretty much absolutely nothing in countries like the US and Canada. This makes sourcing the data difficult as standardised collection methods can’t be applied across the board.
Should a sale proceed and D&B be delisted and taken private, it would be somewhat ironic that they themselves would have to disclose little by way of financial data, thus mirroring the millions of companies they collect information on.