Sarah Beeny's dating website seeks suitors

My Single Friend, an online dating website founded by the television presenter Sarah Beeny, has been put up for sale for up to £15m.

Its major shareholders – Ms Beeny and the technology company Telecom Express – have hired the accountancy firm BDO to handle a sale of the company this summer.

First-round bids of between £10m and £15m were submitted earlier this month, primarily by rival online dating businesses, but some private equity firms are also interested. BDO declined to comment, while My Single Friend and Telecom Express did not return calls.

Ms Beeny, who hosts Channel 4's Property Ladder programme, owns about 40 per cent of My Single Friend, which she co-founded with her friend Amanda Christie in 2004.

The site is unique in that subscribers must nominate a friend who will write a description of them – which, unlike other dating sites, means that a user's profile features both their own words and those of their friend.

Looking for romance on the internet has lost much of its stigma, analysts say. There was 25 per cent spike in traffic to UK dating websites in July – the highest peak in visits for three years, according to Hitwise.

Last month, internet dating accounted for one in every 160 online visits made by computer users in Britain.

While the shareholders are looking to sell My Single Friend, it is understood they would consider selling a minority stake to help launch the website overseas.

A source said: "The real opportunity is international expansion because no one else in the world does this [friend recommendation] and it works really well. The site is very sticky."

My Single Friend attracts 9,000 new singles a month from across the UK. It is on track to make underlying profits of about £1.5m this year.

At least one private equity firm has bid for My Single Friend, but the main interest is from rival internet dating players. While it is unclear if they have submitted first rounds bids for My Single Friend, its suitors could include IAC, which owns Match, and the US company eHarmony.

Telecom Express, which provides online and mobile services for media companies, bought its stake in My Single Friend last year. The company also runs dating sites for newspapers and the Classic FM radio station.

Ms Beeny says her own attempts at match-making gave her the idea for a website where people could describe their friends. She also co-founded the website Tepilo, which helps users to buy, sell or let their properties with no charges or commission.

Looking for love online

*My Single Friend is the tenth-most popular subscription-based internet dating site in the UK and has about 20,000 members.

*The odds of finding love online seem better for men, at least in London and Manchester. In London, there are 5,780 straight women looking for men aged between 30 and 40, but only 3,800 men seeking women in the same age range. In Manchester, the ratio of women seeking men, and vice-versa, is 460 to 300.

*The most popular online dating website in the UK is Plentyoffish, although this is partly because it is free. Plentyoffish accounted for 21.23 per cent of visits to dating sites in July, according to Hitwise.

*The biggest UK player with a subscription model is Match, which received 7.3 per cent of dating traffic.

*Others featuring in Hitwise's top 10 include Gaydar and Sex in the UK.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: DBA Developer - SQL Server

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Administrator

£13000 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about custom...

Recruitment Genius: Dialler Administrator

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Main purpose: Under the directi...

Ashdown Group: Contracts Manager - City of London

£35000 - £37000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Contracts Manager - City...

Day In a Page

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen
RuPaul interview: The drag star on being inspired by Bowie, never fitting in, and saying the first thing that comes into your head

RuPaul interview

The drag star on being inspired by Bowie, never fitting in, and saying the first thing that comes into your head
Secrets of comedy couples: What's it like when both you and your partner are stand-ups?

Secrets of comedy couples

What's it like when both you and your partner are stand-ups?
Satya Nadella: As Windows 10 is launched can he return Microsoft to its former glory?

Satya Nadella: The man to clean up for Windows?

While Microsoft's founders spend their billions, the once-invincible tech company's new boss is trying to save it
The best swimwear for men: From trunks to shorts, make a splash this summer

The best swimwear for men

From trunks to shorts, make a splash this summer
Mark Hix recipes: Our chef tries his hand at a spot of summer foraging

Mark Hix goes summer foraging

 A dinner party doesn't have to mean a trip to the supermarket
Ashes 2015: With an audacious flourish, home hero Ian Bell ends all debate

With an audacious flourish, the home hero ends all debate

Ian Bell advances to Trent Bridge next week almost as undroppable as Alastair Cook and Joe Root, a cornerstone of England's new thinking, says Kevin Garside
Aaron Ramsey interview: Wales midfielder determined to be centre of attention for Arsenal this season

Aaron Ramsey interview

Wales midfielder determined to be centre of attention for Arsenal this season
Community Shield: Arsene Wenger needs to strike first blow in rivalry with Jose Mourinho

Community Shield gives Wenger chance to strike first blow in rivalry with Mourinho

As long as the Arsenal manager's run of games without a win over his Chelsea counterpart continues it will continue to dominate the narrative around the two men
The unlikely rise of AFC Bournemouth - and what it says about English life

Unlikely rise of AFC Bournemouth

Bournemouth’s elevation to football’s top tier is one of the most improbable of recent times. But it’s illustrative of deeper and wider changes in English life
A Very British Coup, part two: New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel

A Very British Coup, part two

New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel
Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Icy dust layer holds organic compounds similar to those found in living organisms