Comparison site pays out a £20m divi

PRICE comparison site yesterday announced a special £20m dividend payment triggered by a 28 per cent revenue rise in the first half.

Founder Simon Nixon, who owns 52 per cent of the shares, will pocket a £14m payout. The company rejected suggestions that Nixon, who has hinted he might sell his stake, forced the company into the payment.

The firm said that investment in technology and media campaigns had fuelled revenue growth to £91.7m.

Moneysupermarket, which has benefited from its sponsorship of hit ITV show Britain’s Got Talent and adverts featuring comedian Omid Djalili, said underlying profits rose 27 per cent to £23m in the six months to 30 June. The firm is paying its shareholders a special dividend of 3.93p per share, while its interim dividend increased by 15 per cent to 1.5p per share.

The number of visitors to Moneysupermarket’s personal finance site rose four per cent in the first half, while searches for cheaper car insurance also increased. It accounted for 57 per cent of revenues.

Moneysupermarket said that Britons were frantically searching for cheaper deals in the current uncertain economic climate.

It said searches for unsecured loan deals were on the rise as banks were offering deals at preferential rates in an attempt to encourage new borrowing.

Chief executive Peter Plumb said: “In the current climate people love to find a bargain and it gives them a sense of real satisfaction. Customers use us to save on their energy bills and all sorts of other things, especially car insurance which is very expensive now.”