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Moneysupermarket founder in 17m windfall despite 90 per cent profit dive

MONEYSUPERMARKET.COM yesterday shocked the market when it announced a &ldquo;special dividend&rdquo;, despite a profit drop of nearly 90 per cent, landing its former chief executive a cool &pound;16.8m.<br /><br />The price comparison website reported a first-half pre-tax profit of &pound;1.9m, down from &pound;14.4m in the same period last year, but moved to soften the blow by giving investors a &ldquo;special&rdquo; 4.93p per share dividend. <br /><br />The group said the payout to investors, which includes an interim dividend of 1.3p, underlined its &ldquo;confidence in the ability of the business to continue to generate cash&rdquo;.<br /><br />The biggest single beneficiary will be the group&rsquo;s co-founder and former chief executive Simon Nixon, who owns 53 per cent of the company. The entrepreneur stepped down as chief executive earlier this year.<br /><br />Moneysupermarket said that earnings in the six-months had dropped by 31 per cent to &pound;68.5m but gave a positive outlook for the future.<br /><br />The group, which has been heavily affected by the declines in lending during the credit crunch, has cut more than a quarter of its workforce over the past year.