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 Orbis Directory by Bureau van Dijk.
Orbis Directory by Bureau van Dijk
Offering global and country-specific coverage in multiple languages on a million companies, Bureau van Dijk (BvD) is difficult to catalog the many databases it offers. BvD has a unique name for each service. International databases, such as Mint and Osiris, are teamed up with country-specific services like Ruslana (Russia), Sabi (Spain), and Jade (Japan).
Orbis Directory is a global database that has information on more than 300 million companies.
- Europe (70 million companies)
- Americas (40 million companies)
- Asia Pacific (15 million companies)
- Information on over 6.5 million patentes linked to 585,000 companies
- Directors and contacts
- Original filings/images
- Stock data
- Detailed corporate and ownership structures
- Industry research
- Business and company-related news
- M&A deals and rumors.
The information is sourced from more than 40 different information providers, all experts in their regions or disciplines. With descriptive information and company financials, Orbis contains extensive detail on items such as news, market research, ratings and country reports, scanned reports, ownership, and mergers and acquisitions data. Orbis has several different reports for each company. You can view a summary report, which automatically compares a company to its peers, or view more detailed reports that are taken from BvD Electronic Publishing’s specialist products. For listed companies, banks and insurance companies, plus major, private companies, more detailed information is available. Searching Orbis can be done in basic or advanced modes. The advanced mode offers searches by company names, locations, board member and executive names, specific financials, mergers and acquisitions deals, etc. Once a name is searched, a page with the number of results is offered. You can pay to look at all the results or choose a free preview to see if you are close to the results you wanted.
A search for Bugshan in this service returned only one match in Germany, Bugshan Handelsgesellschaft KG. But reviewing the offerings, there are 65,000 companies listed in East and Central Asia. The Bugshan Corporation seems to be listed as a wholesale trader attached to retail stores, with very little information attached to this specific entity. To learn more, you can buy larger reports for a fee, but Orbis will let you know what is available and what is not available in the report before it sells it to you.
These are but a few of the global tools available in your international research. Remember that locating consistent and reliant databases and resources for global due diligence never stops. New vendors continually join the fold and Hg continues to subscribe to and use these tools, and share our results with you for use in your investigations. Stay on top of the latest research products by watching the financial and risk industries, as well as the compliance world literature—the best targets to which these new offerings market themselves.
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.