Ever since the Mexican government authorized Datacredit, a credit bureau jointly owned by TRW Information Systems and Services and a Mexican entrepreneur earlier this month, rumors have been flying about a competitor's failure to gain similar approval.

TRW's major U.S. competitors, Trans Union Corp. and Equifax Inc., each have applications pending, but a number of market sources said Trans Union's application to form a credit bureau with a group of Mexican banks was rejected.

A spokeswoman for Chicago-based Trans Union denied the allegation and said the company expected its application to be approved within two weeks.

An official from the Ministry of Finance, which is processing the applications, would not return phone calls made to his office.

Juan Pina, executive vice president of Banamex, one of the banks involved in the negotiations between the government and the group of banks seeking a partnership with Trans Union, attempted to explain how the rumor might have started.

Mr. Pina said that since Trans Union's application was submitted a few months ago, the company and its prospective bank partners have invited at least 22 additional banks to become part owners.

Originally, Trans Union negotiated with 12 Mexican banks.

The new banks include 12 foreign institutions such as Fuji Bank of Japan, Banco Santander of Spain, and GE Capital of the United States, and about 10 Mexican start-up banks.

The banks as a group would still own 70% of the venture and Trans Union 30%. But the additional memberships will change the individual banks' ownership stakes.

One Mexican banker, who asked to remain anonymous, said the largest banks - Banamex, Bancomer, and Banco Serfin - would likely own a much larger share of the credit bureau than some of the smaller banks.

Also, the banker contended that the partners invited the 22 new banks to be owners, in part, because it gives the venture an appearance of fairness, and thereby might quell any fears within the Ministry of Finance that it could become monopolistic.

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