Equifax names new CEO as fallout from data breach continues

Mark Begor will take over for Paulino do Rego Barros

Equifax has found who it believes is the right person to lead the company into its next phase as the credit reporting agency continues to deal with the fallout from its massive data breach that exposed the personal information of nearly 148 million U.S. consumers to hackers.

Equifax announced Wednesday that it is naming Mark Begor as its next CEO. Begor will take over at the company on April 16, replacing Paulino do Rego Barros, who took over as interim CEO when Richard Smith retired in the immediate aftermath of the company’s disclosure of the breach.

It’s been a turbulent term as CEO for Barros.

The credit reporting agency said in September 2017 that the names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some instances, driver’s license numbers, of approximately 143 million consumers were stolen in the data breach.

After that initial disclosure, several Equifax executives stepped down, including Smith.

Later, the company updated the number of victims to 145.5 million, and then to nearly 148 million.

The company is also facing investigations from a plethora of federal and state agencies as well as increased oversight from Congress.

But Barros guided the company through much of the fallout, with Equifax actually seeing an increase in both its net income and revenue in the quarter immediately following the breach’s exposure.

Now, it will be Begor’s turn to lead the company.

Begor comes to Equifax from private equity firm Warburg Pincus, where he served as a managing director and focused on operational improvements across portfolio companies within the firm's Industrial and Business Services group. 

Begor joined Warburg Pincus in 2016 after spending 35 years with General Electric Company in various leadership roles, including serving as president and CEO of GE Energy Management from 2014 to 2016; president and CEO of GE Capital Real Estate from 2011 to 2014; and president and CEO of GE Capital Retail Finance (Synchrony Financial) from 2002 to 2011.

Begor also currently serves on the board of directors of FICO and on the boards of several Warburg Pincus portfolio companies, but will be resigning those roles prior to taking over at Equifax.

“After conducting a comprehensive search process, the board is extremely pleased to welcome Mark to the Equifax team,” Equifax Chairman of the Board Mark Feidler said.

“He is a highly accomplished executive with a long track record of successful leadership across a variety of global industries relevant to our business, including his nine-year leadership of General Electric's retail credit card business, now Synchrony Financial, as well as his membership on FICO's Board of Directors,” Feidler added. “His proven leadership ability, operational expertise, growth focus, financial acumen, strategic vision, and customer orientation make him the right person to lead Equifax into the future.”

Barros, who previously served as president of Equifax’s Asia Pacific operations, will be retiring from the company next year and will assist Begor in the transition process, the company said.

“On behalf of the board of directors, I would like to thank Paulino for his dedicated service as interim CEO over the last six months,” Feidler said. “He stepped in and very capably guided our company at a critical juncture, and we are all incredibly grateful for his leadership and dedication to Equifax.”

In addition to serving as CEO, Begor will also assume a seat on Equifax’s board of directors.

In a statement, Begor acknowledged the company’s “well-publicized issues” over the last few months and pledged that securing people’s information is a chief priority for both him and the company moving forward.

“I am excited to take the helm of Equifax at such a pivotal moment in the company’s history,” Begor said.

“The team has made meaningful progress in the last several months to address a number of well-publicized issues while continuing to focus on delivering differentiated new products and advanced analytics to support our customers,” Begor added.

“I will prioritize continuing our team's efforts to communicate transparently and restore confidence with consumers, customers, shareholders, and policymakers,” Begor concluded. “And most critically, we will continue to invest in and strengthen our IT and data security. As a custodian of consumer and customer information, protecting that data is a central priority for Equifax and for me personally.”

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