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Consumer champion Martin Lewis sells business to price comparison site

June 1st, 2012 by Chris St Cartmail

News reaches us that the ‘financial consumer champion’, Martin Lewis, has sold his Shepherd’s Bush-based MoneySavingExpert.com business for a handy £87 million to none other than the UK’s biggest financial comparison operator, MoneySupermarket.com.

Kudos to Martin for selling the bootstrap operation he started as a one-man-band for £100 in 2003 and which now has 42 employees, generating on average nearly £300,000 each in annual net profit.

According to the MoneySavingExpert website, it prides itself on its independence. “Our ethical stance and Consumer Revenge approach have made [MoneySavingExpert.com] the UK's official No. 1 money site with over 13 million unique users a month”.

On a FAQ page about the purchase, MoneySavingExpert.com says it plans to retain editorial independence. That ought to be taken with a pinch of salt. MoneySuperMarket is a ruthless operator and after shelling out this sizable sum, they might be inclined to immediately rummage through the site to see what can be leveraged to their advantage. Who wouldn’t?

The visitor stats revealed on Martin’s site may be a little outdated – according to Alexa (which can be vaguely accurate sometimes), the website receives 1.1 million unique visitors a day and over 4 million page views. That’s a very targeted advertising property, so there is a possibility that some editorial independence may be granted. For a while. Or at least till the earn-out completes. Lewis is said to be receiving £60 million in cash and up to £27 million on completion of the earn-out in 3 years.

What a profitable company MoneySavingExpert.com is though. It made NPBT of £12.6 million on revenues of £15.8 million in the last financial year. That level of profitability puts many of the other dotcom companies to shame, and the earnings multiple of around 7x looks not a bad buy at all for the financial aggregator.