UK insurer Admiral Group has agreed to sell its price comparison division, including Confused.com, to the owner of property search site Zoopla in a cash deal worth £508m.
Admiral will receive £450m from the deal, with the remainder going to Mapfre, the Spanish insurer that co-owns some of the businesses being sold. Admiral said it planned to return the majority of proceeds to shareholders.
Zoopla Property Group, which owns several popular real estate and comparison sites including Zoopla and uSwitch, was bought by US private equity group Silver Lake two years ago.
The deal, which is expected to complete in the first half of 2021, will mean Admiral’s comparison portals Confused.com, Rastreator.com and LeLynx.fr are sold to Zoopla’s comparison division, known as RVU.
“The purchase of the UK and European comparison businesses by RVU offers a positive outcome for our customers and our employees, and also provides good value for our shareholders,” said David Stevens, group chief executive of Admiral Group.
Mr Stevens, who co-founded Admiral in 1991 and has led the group since 2016, is due to retire this week and step down from the board. He will be replaced as chief executive by Milena Mondini de Focatiis, Admiral’s head of UK and European insurance.
“Comparison will continue to be Admiral’s most important distribution channel in Europe and we look forward to continuing to work closely with Confused.com, Rastreator and LeLynx as they continue to grow and strengthen the customer offering,” Mr Stevens added.
Admiral’s share price rose 3 per cent in early trading on Tuesday morning, having climbed 30 per cent this year after the group benefited from fewer claim payouts during the coronavirus lockdowns.
The FTSE 100 insurer consolidated its comparison businesses into a separate division, Penguin Portals, in 2019. The gross value of the unit’s assets at the end of June was £78.1m, with the division contributing £13.6m of profits to the wider group in the first six months of the year.
Silver Lake jointly owns RVU along with Red Ventures, the US media group, GIC, the Singaporean sovereign wealth fund, and PSP Investments, the Canadian public sector pension fund manager.
“Penguin Portals offers an exciting opportunity for us to expand our consumer brand portfolio and geographic reach,” said Tariq Syed, chief executive of RVU.
“With its focus on insurance, Confused.com perfectly complements uSwitch’s existing expertise in the home services category, and with equally established offerings in other countries we have an opportunity to help even more consumers find the right deals for their needs.”
Admiral’s US comparison business, Compare.com, will not be included in the deal, which is expected to slightly reduce the group’s future earnings.
The Penguin Portals senior management team, including Elena Bates, the division’s director, will transfer with the business.
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