Compare Insurance Rates & Save

Confused.Com Could Add Pounds 700m to Admiral's Coffers If Sale Goes Ahead

May 25, 2007

By Aled Blake

MOTOR insurance group Admiral yesterday confirmed it is considering selling off its successful price comparison website for pounds 700m.

Shares in the company were buoyed by the news of the possible sale, which follows the announcement of record profits for Admiral in March 2006. has been a key driver in Admiral's growth and analysts think the internet company could be worth more than pounds 600m.

But it is believed that Admiral's bankers at Merrill Lynch are looking for about pounds 700m.

It is the latest success for Admiral, which has been one of the best performers on the London Stock Market since floating in September 2004 at 275p a share.

Its share price closed yesterday at 994p, an increase in value of 16p.

Admiral said it was reviewing its options regarding the venture, including a sale, after it received a number of approaches from parties interested in buying the business.

In a statement yesterday, the company said, "Admiral notes the recent press speculation regarding and confirms that it has received approaches from several parties regarding the business.

"The board is reviewing its options in relation to Confused which include retention

of the business or a partial or full disposal.

"There can be no certainty that any transaction will take place.", which is based in Cardiff, launched as a car insurance comparison service in January 2003 and has now branched out into home insurance, loans, credit cards and utility prices.

It helped customers find 1.3m policies and provided nine million quotations in 2006. It is expected to achieve earnings of around pounds 30m this year.

A number of parties are believed to be involved in the negotiations, with reports citing US-businessman Barry Diller's InterActiveCorporation as one potential buyer.

InterActiveCorporation owns ticketmaster and, and Mr Diller is also chairman of internet travel firm

Admiral, which was set up in 1993, employs more than 2,000 people at its offices in Swansea and Cardiff. Its brands include Diamond and

It was founded by Chicago-born entrepreneur Henry Engelhardt, whose personal wealth is estimated at pounds 440m, made up largely of his pounds 420m stake in Admiral.

Last year the group banked pre-tax profits pounds 147.3m, including a pounds 23m contribution from

Its employee share scheme means that most staff will receive free shares with a value of around pounds 3,000.

Numis Securities said a sale at pounds 700m would be above its own valuation.

Analyst Nick Johnson added, "A sale at this stage may be a smart move for Admiral given that the online quote comparison industry is likely to become more competitive going forward.

"In addition, distancing itself from Confused would enable management to focus all efforts on the core underwriting business during the next upturn in the cycle."

Last October the company successfully launched into the Spanish car insurance market with

And Mr Engelhardt has said he plans to expand into the highly- lucrative German car insurance market by the end of the year.

The move comes at a time when internet companies have returned to the forefront of takeover interest.

Recent deals have included the sale of Friends Reunited to ITV, while price comparison website Simplyswitch was recently snapped up by the owner of the Daily Mail newspaper - DMGT - and Uswitch was bought out by US media firm EW Scripps.

Earlier this month personal finance and comparison site was also reported to be looking at its options regarding a possible stock market flotation or sale worth up to pounds 1bn.

(c) 2007 Western Mail. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.

Insurance News: Confused.Com Could Add Pounds 700m to Admiral's Coffers If Sale Goes Ahead ; Get an insurance quote! « Back