UK Consumer finance website acquired by MoneySupermarket for up to $133.9m

UK Consumer finance website acquired by MoneySupermarket for up to $133.9m

Martin Lewis, the consumer finance expert and broadcaster is selling his site for around £87m ($133.9m). The site is being acquired by the MoneySupermarket Group.

The site is being purchased for £60m upfront (a mix of cash and shares) with £27m more conditional on meeting non-financial performance targets over the next three years.

The agreement has been laid out in a news post on MoneySavingExpert (MSE), describing the deal. The Editorial Code has been agreed as part of the sale which means that MSE will still follow its founding principles and remains independent of commercial objectives. This is naturally important if it is to retain it’s reputation for impartial advice.

In his editorial on the acquisition, in relation to editorial values, Lewis writes:

Absolutely, we will continue to do what we’ve always done. MSE and MoneySupermarket will operate as completely separate entities as part of the bigger group. Think of it like the fact Radio 4 and Radio 5 are both part of the BBC but with their own separate editorial stance.

The site has done well over time, growing as a free advice portal for people looking for help with financial questions. But, Lewis is not a money-grabbing expert and so a £10m donation to charity will come from the deal. Citizens Advice, which deals with legal problems, debt and consumer issues will get £1 million, and the remaining £9 million is going to a Charities Aid Foundation trust.

The MSE team will also share a chunk of the deal value and Lewis will continue as Editor-in-Chief of MSE in sole charge of the site.

The MSE site is seeing healthy traffic with around 39 million unique visitors and approximately 277 million page impressions in the year ended 31 October 2011.

MSE has also long provided a weekly email, which is sent out to around 5 million addresses, with all recipients having opted in to recieve it.

As ever MSE is clear about the financial process and has further explained what will happen next. The deal has to be cleared by the Office of Fair Trading, shareholder approval and other conditions also need to be checked out.

Lewis explained his choices a little more with the statement:

“I chose MoneySupermarket to work with as I know and trust them. They understand the site, as they’ve shown by agreeing the Editorial Code, which ensures our content can proudly remain editorially independent and free from commercial considerations.”

Peter Plumb, CEO of MoneySupermarket is naturally also pleased with the deal and says:

“We’ve worked closely together for years with the common goal of helping customers save money. By joining forces we can get more people to save more money. We’ll help MoneySavingExpert reach a wider audience and it will broaden the range of advice and tools we offer, encouraging even more people to take action, tap into the benefits of the internet to find a better deal and make the most of their money.”

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