Personal finance journalist Martin Lewis secured his own multi-million pound fortune by agreeing the sale of his website for up to £87m.
MoneySavingExpert.com, which was set up by Mr Lewis in 2003 and now sends a weekly email to around five million subscribers, is to be bought by price comparison website MoneySupermarket.
Mr Lewis, who is well-known as a television pundit on money matters, will receive £60m upfront in a mixture of cash and shares and a further £27m conditional on meeting targets over the next three years.
He plans to donate £10m to charity from the deal, including £1m to Citizens Advice, while he will retain full control over the website.
According to Google Analytics, the MoneySavingExpert website attracted 39 million unique visitors and around 277 million page impressions in the year to October 31. It generated revenues of £15.7m over the same period.
Mr Lewis said the deal, which needs the approval of MoneySupermarket shareholders, ensured the website would be around for many years to come. He added: “MoneySavingExpert.com has become part of people’s daily lives, far bigger than the man who founded it, and now is the right time for it to stand on its own two feet.”
Mr Lewis said he chose Moneysupermarket because it is not owned by any product providers and had signed up to an editorial code which ensures the website’s content will be free from commercial pressures.
He will stay as editor-in-chief for the next three years, with the help of Moneysupermarket’s resources and the website’s existing 42-strong staff. “After that, the door is open for me to carry on, and I hope to do so, though perhaps with fewer hours than now, so I can spend more time on my media work and other projects I’m passionate about. These include getting financial education on the curriculum,” Mr Lewis said.
Mr Lewis, who owns 100 per cent of MoneySavingExpert, said his decision to give £1m to Citizens Advice was in response to “terrible funding cuts” at the organisation.
The remainder of the £10m donation will go to a Charities Aid Foundation trust.
MoneySupermarket chief executive Peter Plumb said his firm’s backing will help the MoneySavingExpert website reach a bigger audience and broaden the range of advice.
He added: “MoneySavingExpert is rightly trusted by its users as a unique source of independent information and views in today’s complex financial world. We are committed to maintaining its trusted, independent reputation.”
The weekly newsletter emails of MoneySavingExpert set out current offers, products and services. The website has also played a key role in helping consumers understand their rights and how to claim compensation.