Belfast Telegraph

GoCompare makes first international investment

GoCompare has bought a minority stake of just under 10% in Dubai-based counterpart Souqalmal.com for two million US dollars (£1.5 million).

Price comparison site GoCompare has announced its first overseas investment with the acquisition of a stake in a Middle Eastern firm.

Newport-based GoCompare has bought a minority stake of just under 10% in Dubai-based counterpart Souqalmal.com for two million US dollars (£1.5 million).

Matthew Crummack, chief executive of GoCompare Group, told the Press Association the move was part of an ongoing strategy to invest in up-and-coming businesses and firms in the sector.

The deal follows the firm’s first strategic investment in July, when it snapped up a minority stake in digital “robo-adviser” Mortgage Gym.

Mr Crummack said GoCompare, which was spun out from esure and listed on the London Stock Exchange in November last year, now has the financial firepower to make canny strategic investments.

He said the firm was “very cash generative”, having reduced its debt twice since being demerged.

While he said the GoCompare brand is unlikely to expand overseas, the Middle Eastern deal confirms the group’s aim to invest in the sector where opportunities arise.

“We’re all about saving people everywhere time and money,” he said.

“Wherever these ideas come from, we don’t discriminate – we’re just looking for good ideas,” he added.

Souqalmal.com was founded in 2012 and offers comparison services across more than 3,000 products – including banking and insurance – in both English and Arabic.

GoCompare said the firm was the “clear leader” in financial education and personal finance comparison in the Middle East.

The investment comes after last week’s findings by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) following a probe into the price comparison sector, which saw it announce further investigations into one player – widely understood to be comparethemarket.com – over arrangements with insurers.

It is thought the firm’s use of so-called “most favoured nation clauses” could be resulting in higher home insurance costs for consumers.

Mr Crummack said it was “not fair” that the entire sector is being tarnished as a result of this.

“There are some criticisms based on the behaviour of certain companies that gets spread across all players, and we don’t think that’s fair,” he said.

“We take our independence very seriously.”

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