Go Compare's founder makes sell-off overtures

Calm down dear! It's only Hayley Parsons' chance to buy-out Esure's 49 per cent stake

The founder of Go Compare, the price comparison website fronted by the fictitious opera singer Gio Compario, has appointed advisers to look at selling the business.

Hayley Parsons has hired the accounting firm Grant Thornton to conduct a strategic review of the company, valued at £500m which she launched in 2006. The self-confessed "Welsh girl from the valleys" is understood to have decided to work out her options ahead of the planned stock-market flotation of the motor insurer Esure, which owns 49 per cent of Go Compare.

Esure, which was famously fronted by Michael Winner in its television adverts, has publicly stated that it has "no plans to increase its stake" in Go Compare. However, one well-placed source said the company has not ruled out bringing it into the fold ahead of its £1bn listing next year.

Esure's founder, Peter Wood, is known to have held meetings with Ms Parsons over the past few months to discuss the subject. Alternative suitors for the business could include its listed rival, Moneysupermarket.com, or private-equity firms, although insiders say Ms Parsons favours buying out Esure's stake.

The 38-year-old, who received an OBE for services to the economy in the New Year's Honours list, holds a 23 per cent stake in the company valued at more than £100m. The remainder is held by staff and other small shareholders.

In an interview in June, she said: "Go Compare is my baby. It is my business." Her comments came after the group reported pre-tax profit of £34.7m for 2011, up 15 per cent on the previous 12 months. This saw Ms Parsons pick up £3.2m in dividends, while Esure received £6.8m.

A sale or buyout of Go Compare would come at a pivotal time for the business, which operates in one of the most competitive marketplaces in the UK. As well as Go Compare and Moneysupermarket.com, Confused.com and Comparethemarket.com are also big players in a sector targeted by the internet search giant Google in recent years.

Go Compare's future could also have a significant bearing on Esure's listing. The motor insurer has appointed Deutsche Bank and J P Morgan to oversee its flotation.

Bankers expect this to value the company at nearly four times the £270m it was worth when Lloyds Banking Group sold a controlling 70 per cent stake in the firm two years ago. Analysts say a combined Esure and Go Compare could be a more attractive investment to City institutions.

Go Compare declined to comment.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
News
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Sport
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Carlton Senior Appointments: Private Banking Manager - Intl Bank - Los Angeles

$200 - $350 per annum: Carlton Senior Appointments: Managing Producer – Office...

Carlton Senior Appointments: San Fran - Investment Advisor – Ind Advisory Firm

$125 - $225 per annum: Carlton Senior Appointments: San Fran - Investment Advi...

Sheridan Maine: Commercial Finance Manager

Up to £70,000 per annum + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a qualified accoun...

Sheridan Maine: Regulatory Reporting Accountant

Up to £65,000 per annum + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a qualified accoun...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas