By Cynthia Hetherington
International research requires global tools. Certainly Google, Facebook, and LinkedIn created some handy, quick-find sources for conducting due diligence, and I’d always endorse the easy way to get an answer. However, depending on the country you are reaching into for your answers, the nature of data is not always as obvious or transparent. Whether language is a barrier, or you’re up against stringent privacy laws in the EMEA countries, or the country is deliberately evasive—as many tax-shelter islands can be—company information is still required for compliance and due diligence demands.
International research has come a long way, since I began my information research career as a librarian. Back then it was all about bricks-and-mortar buildings, where we pulled books off the shelf and updated clipping services. Databases were available (searched in Boolean language) but expensive (per-minute charges—at 300-baud!). Today’s $45 report was $200+ back then. University business libraries offered access to collections that local libraries couldn’t afford.
Today, the expectation is that all information is freely available online and only one simple mouse-click away. New vendors and service providers are helping us researchers in the field meet those expectations. In this 4-part series, we review four of my favorite go-to resources: Kompass, SkyMinder, Sayari, and Bureau van Dijk.
Where to Start
Open sources are good; a finance Google search can render much info. However, many of your research needs may require specific and industry-focused resources, such as a Harvard Business School’s Bloomberg library catalog offering. I will often spend an afternoon crawling a library index such as Harvard’s just to see what is new for my investigations. Try it yourself sometime.
An especially notable resource is the Library of Congress’s Guide to Law Online, offering up one of the best international and multinational legal databases for locating information country by country.
Fortunately for us, bankers, lawyers and business professionals have a required information need, which forces the creation and maintenance of excellent information products. The products outlined in this article are resources that may not circulate as much as the international due diligence products of Dun & Bradstreet, Thomson Reuters, and LexisNexis. This week, we review Skyminder.
SkyMinder, located in Tampa, Florida and an affiliate of CRIF S.p.A. based in Bologna, Italy, is an incredible aggregator of corporate business and credit reports.
SkyMinder provides the following:
- Access to in-depth credit, financial, and business information on over 230 million companies all over the world.
- Products are focused towards credit reports, monitoring solutions, compliance, and know-your-customer solutions.
- Data availability includes marketing data, line of business, incorporation details, share-holders/owners, executives, employees, office and facilities, business structure (headquarters, parent, branches, and subsidiaries), rating, credit limit, payment information, financials, banking relationships and accountants, litigations, etc.
Learn more about SkyMinder’s sources here.
A search for the popular Saudi family name “Bugshan” in the company section of SkyMinder automatically seeks credit reports. The search return offers 32 matches under Credit Info and ten matches under Company Info.
Bugshan Sweets & Tahina is not named in either corporate or credit results lists. However, the Abdullah Said Bugshan & Bros. listing at the top of the Company Info results page states that it is the headquarters. This could be the parent of Bugshan Sweets—considering it names just about every type of manufactured product from construction materials to sundries.
The key here is to see what sorts of reports SkyMinder is selling. In this case, Graham & Whiteside Ltd. has a document for sale that includes contact information, employee size, principals, banking and finance and associated companies. For less than $20 (USD), that’s a bargain.
Another Graham & Whiteside report purchased from SkyMinder contains information phenomenal to the investigator—industry specifics, banking information, the majority ownership (Saudi Wiemer & Trachte Ltd.), and a great amount of detail, which would cost hundreds of dollars from Dun & Bradstreet.
SkyMinder also resells credit reports, which are similar to business reports, but with more financial offerings (payment history, credit ratings and profit, loss, and reported financials). These reports tend to be ordered on-the-fly, and a certain amount of time is taken to generate the documents. In other words, once the report is ordered, a local researcher actually conducts the investigation in that country and delivers the results within a week or more.
As an example of prices, credit reports for Abdullah Said Bugshan & Bros. are available from D&B at a price slightly over $200, at Asian CIS the fee is about $140. At RIME Information Bureau, CreditInfo Middle East Ltd., and ICP the fee ranges from $130 to more than $200, depending on how quickly you want the information.
Are you an analyst or investigator looking for advanced training on global due diligence? If so, check out Hg’s webinar series, where you can attend live sessions and receive CEUs or watch previously recorded sessions to beef up your investigative skills.
Are you interested in working with an international company but unsure if it’s legitimate? As veteran investigators in global due diligence, Hg understands the business world and the legal and regulatory frameworks in which corporations and privately held companies operate. Our skilled analysts excel at exposing financial risks, reputational issues, criminal activity, and legal actions detrimental to your personal and business stability. Learn how our team can arm you with the data you need.
Cynthia Hetherington, MLS, MSM, CFE, CII is the founder and president of Hetherington Group, a consulting, publishing, and training firm that leads in due diligence, corporate intelligence, and cyber investigations by keeping pace with the latest security threats and assessments. She has authored three books on how to conduct investigations, is the publisher of the newsletter, Data2know: Internet and Online Intelligence, and annually trains thousands of investigators, security professionals, attorneys, accountants, auditors, military intelligence professionals, and federal, state, and local agencies on best practices in the public and private sectors.