Admiral Sells Comparison Unit to Zoopla in $685 Million Deal

U.K. home and car insurer Admiral Group Plc agreed to sell its price-comparison unit to the owner of property portal Zoopla in a transaction valued at 508 million pounds ($685 million).

Admiral will get about 450 million pounds in the cash deal, which is expected to be completed in the first half of next year, according to a company statement on Tuesday. Spanish insurer Mapfre SA is also selling stakes in two of the businesses.

Shares in Admiral rose by as much as 3.6% to a record 3,027 pence in London on Tuesday.

While many insurance firms have been hard hit by claims and investment losses related to the pandemic, car insurers have proven more resilient, with people driving less during lockdowns. Admiral shares are up about 30% this year, compared with a 13% decline in the Stoxx Europe 600 Insurance Index.

Admiral said it would return most of the proceeds from the sale to shareholders, while using some of the money to invest in developing its business in the coming years.

Under the deal, a unit of ZPG Ltd. will acquire Admiral’s Penguin Portals Group, which operates online platforms that help consumers compare the cost of services such as insurance products, mortgages, energy supplies and Internet connections. ZPG, which was bought by U.S. private-equity firm Silver Lake in 2018, will add brands including Confused.com and Rastreator.com to its existing platforms including Zoopla and Uswitch.

“With its focus on insurance, Confused.com perfectly complements Uswitch’s existing expertise in the home-services category, and with equally established offerings in other countries, we have an opportunity to help even more consumers find the right deals for their needs,” Tariq Syed, chief executive officer of ZPG Comparison Services Holdings U.K. Ltd., said in the statement.

Admiral CEO David Stevens said price-comparison websites will continue to be the insurer’s “most important distribution channel in Europe,” and it will work closely with the businesses it’s selling.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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