founder Simon Nixon lands £200m windfall; Businessman bored by accountancy cashes in after strong demand for shares in price comparison site founder Simon Nixon lands £200m windfall

Businessman bored by accountancy cashes in after strong demand for shares in price comparison site

Rupert Neate

The Guardian, Wednesday 5 June 2013 23.45 BST

Simon Nixon

Simon Nixon, who founded the price comparison website Photograph: Adrian Sherratt /Rex Features

Simon Nixon, the businessman who founded the price comparison after dropping out of studying accountancy at university because it was “boring”, has landed a £200m windfall.

Nixon – who had already banked a £100m fortune when the website joined the stock market in 2007 – has sold 100m shares, raising another £200m in cash.

Ferrari-loving Nixon, 45, will also collect about £20m from a dividend payout on his remaining 29% stake in the company. Nixon, who is understood to be relocating to Jersey for tax reasons, founded the website after quitting an accountancy course at Nottingham University because, according to an interview at the time of the flotation, “I hated it. It was boring.”He got the idea to set up a price comparison business after discovering there was no easy way to compare mortgage deals. So he spent “every night and every weekend” setting up a magazine listing best-buy tables. At first he sent the tables out free, then charged an £11-a-fortnight subscription. Within two years it was earning him £10,000 a month.

Then as the dotcom bubble began to inflate in 1999, Nixon persuaded his then girlfriend’s 18-year-old brother Duncan Cameron to quit his IT course at Liverpool University and help him set up a website.

In what he described as “the worst deal I ever did”, he gave Cameron half the company in return for coming on board. The founders ultimately fell out, and reportedly refused to talk to each other for five years, until Cameron sold his half of the business for £162m in 2007. Moneysupermarket now has a stock market value of more than £1.1bn.

The company said Nixon was selling the shares to “diversify his personal holdings” and he will “continue to play a key role” on the company’s board. Nixon has scaled back his day-to-day involvement with the site. He stood down as chief executive in 2009 and has since scaled his role back further. He is now a part-time deputy chairman of the business.

Credit Suisse and Citigroup, the investment banks that arranged the sale, said Nixon had only planned to sell 80m shares, but increased the number to 100m after “strong demand” from other investors.

Nixon is not the only one to have made a fortune out of giving online personal financial advice. Martin Lewis, the 41-year-old former business editor of Radio 4’s Today, became a multimillionaire when Moneysupermarket bought his site for £87m last year. Lewis received £60m of the sale price in cash.

Hayley Parsons, founder of comparison site Go Compare, which has been put up for sale, is expected to collect a multimillion pound windfall. Go Compare, which Parsons set up in 2006, has been given a minimum price tag of £275m and some insiders believe it could fetch twice that.

Parsons, who left school at 16 with five GCSEs but stormed up the ranks at Cardiff-based insurer Admiral before starting Go Compare, owns nearly a quarter of the company. Parsons, who describes Go Compare as “my baby”, picked up more than £3m in dividends last year.

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (, the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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