agrees £87m deal to acquire MoneySavingExpert

UK online price comparison services provider Group Plc (LON:MONY) said on Friday it would conditionally buy domestic personal finance and personal finance journalism website MoneySavingExpert for up to £87m ($133m/€108m), in a move to broaden its brand and user content.

The deal was agreed with the vendor Martin Lewis and and is seen to contribute to’s earnings in the first full year of ownership. The acquisition is in line with the buyer’s strategy to improve customer experience and grow its direct-to-site revenues, it said.

Conditions to the transaction include clearance by’s shareholders and regulatory approvals. Simon Nixon, controlling 52.48% in, had pledged to vote in favour of the deal.
MoneySupermarket’s CEO, Peter Plumb, said the combination would widen the range of his company’s offering, while helping reach a wider audience.

Martin Lewis will remain with the company after the deal as editor-in-chief of the site.

Under the terms of the agreement, MoneySupermarket will pay £35m of the total price upfront in cash, 22.1m shares, as well as deferred proceeds of up to £27m based on performance, the buyer said, adding it would use existing cash and a new bank loan to finance it.

Completion is anticipated by September to October 2012.

MoneySavingExpert offers free online researched information in the areas of credit cards and loans, shopping, deals and vouchers, utilities and phones, banking and saving, travel and motoring, insurance, mortgages and homes, and income and family. It had revenues of £15.77m and EBITDA of £12.64m in the year to 31 October 2011.

The buyer is being advised by Credit Suisse AG (NYSE:CS).