- 01 июня 2012, 14:27
Personal finance guru Martin Lewis will continue to edit site after sale to MoneySupermarket and will donate £10m to charity
Personal finance journalist Martin Lewis has sold his MoneySavingExpert website to the price comparison company MoneySupermarket in a deal which will net him up to £87m.
Lewis set up the site, which offers money saving tips and advice, reader forums and calculators, in 2003 and it now has around 5 million subscribers to its weekly email. According to Google Analytics, it attracted around 39 million unique visitors and 277m page impressions in the year ending 31 October 2011. It reported revenues of £15.7m for the same period.
Lewis, who is well-known as a media pundit on money matters, will receive £60m upfront in a mixture of cash and shares and a further £27m if he meets targets over the next three years, while he remains at the website as its editor-in-chief. He has said he will give £10m to charity, with £1m going to Citizens Advice.
The site, which employs 42 people, was now "far bigger than the man who founded it" and it was the right time to sell, Lewis said.
"This is great news for MoneySavingExpert.com and its users, ensuring, with or without me, the site will be around for many years to come, maintaining our ethos of 'cutting your costs and fighting your corner'."
Peter Plumb, chief executive officer of MoneySupermarket, said the website shared a common goal of helping customers save money.
"We'll help MoneySavingExpert.com reach a wider audience and MoneySavingExpert.com 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."
Plumb said his company was committed to maintaining MSE's independent reputation, a point addressed by Lewis in a blogpost to readers.
"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," he wrote.
He added that he had approached MoneySupermarket rather that "touting the site around" because "I know and trust it and it's not owned by any product providers. I wanted a company that understands what we do – and it's proved that by signing up to the Editorial Code which ensures our content can proudly remain editorially independent and free from commercial considerations" .
Some users seemed unconvinced that MSE would not be affected by the sale.
On the site's forums sablade described it as a sellout, adding: "To start with we will see no difference but drip by drip moneysupermarket will suffocate this site and strip it of all its ways to turn the public's free advice into pure profit."
Fen_boy asked: "Are the regular and extremely helpful forum users getting a dividend then? That's where most of the value lies in this site. You're all being sold to line Martin's pockets otherwise."
Some, however, were supportive. Aliasojo accused fellow readers of "acting like a dumped spouse", adding: "I live on this site and I hate change but I don't particularly think this is a bad thing. It's us users that has [sic] made this site what it is (sorry Martin but without us the site would never have grown) and I can't see that a new company would shell out £87m just to come in and make sweeping changes to a working model and risk alienating its user base."
The sale is expected to be completed in the autumn.