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
Sunday 04 November 2012
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.
Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts
I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title
Footage shot by a passerby shows moment an ill man was carried out of his burning home
Peter Biaksangzuala died from his injuries in hospital on Sunday
- 1 Ebola outbreak: What is bushmeat – and is it to blame for the disease that has killed thousands?
- 2 Star Wars memorabilia called a 'bit of plastic' on Antiques Roadshow by Fiona Bruce valued at £50,000
- 3 Drink alcohol and eat meat to improve male fertility - but cut down on coffee, studies suggest
- 4 Russell Brand might seem like a sexy revolutionary worth getting behind, but he will only fail his fans
- 5 Kentucky gang rape: 15-year-old boy left in critical condition after sexual attack by group at party
Sophia Loren: How I rejected Cary Grant and 'pulverised' Marlon Brando with my eyes
Ebola outbreak: What is bushmeat – and is it to blame for the disease that has killed thousands?
'Russian submarine spotted' by Swedish military off coast of Stockholm
Kentucky gang rape: 15-year-old boy left in critical condition after sexual attack by group at party
Oscar Pistorius sentence: Athlete's wealth and notoriety provoke an overdue debate on South African prisons
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Sorry Judy Finnigan – Ched Evans is no less sickening than an alleyway rapist
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Workers 'could be forced to pay £5 a week' to get benefits
Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
Amal Alamuddin calls for the return of the Elgin Marbles from Britain: 'Injustice has persisted for too long'
iJobs Money & Business
£18 - 23k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Customer Service Executiv...
£60 - 65k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a ASP.NET Web Developer / ....
£60,000 - £80,000: Saxton Leigh: Our client is an leading Asset Manager based...
£27000 - £32000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our large charity ...