Hunt set for company sale windfall
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt may be in line for a multimillion-pound payday from the sale of a private company, which could make him the wealthiest member of David Cameron's Cabinet.
According to reports, the education listings service Hotcourses, which Mr Hunt co-founded in the 1990s, could be sold to private equity firm Inflexion for £35 million.
Mr Hunt, who lists a shareholding in Hotcourses in the House of Commons register of members' interests, is understood to own just under half of the firm and could receive as much as £17 million if the takeover goes ahead.
It was revealed in August that the company was seeking a buyer, and Sky News today reported that Inflexion has outbid a number of other interested companies to win a period of exclusivity in which to finalise an agreement. Sources told the broadcaster that the transaction was not "a done deal" and no announcement was expected for a number of weeks.
Neither Inflexion nor Hotcourses would comment on the reports, while a source close to Mr Hunt also declined to discuss the issue.
Hotcourses, which has offices in London, India, Australia and the US, offers listings for school, college, university and online courses around the world.
Mr Hunt came up with the idea while working as an English teacher in Japan and set the business up with friend Mike Elms, who remains chief executive.
He stood down as managing director when elected Conservative MP for South West Surrey in 2005 and it is understood that his shareholding is held in a blind trust over which he has no direct control.
The company's website lists him as a member of its "team", adding: "Jeremy has stepped aside from all management responsibilities at Hotcourses Ltd in order to focus on his parliamentary duties, and is no longer involved in the running of the company."
David Cameron's official spokesman faced a barrage of questions at a Westminster media briefing over whether the presence of a number of millionaires in his Cabinet might make the Government less able to keep in touch with the problems of ordinary people.
The spokesman said: "The Prime Minister's view is that he has a very strong ministerial team and a Cabinet team with very talented individuals. One of the strengths the Prime Minister would point to in the Cabinet is the range of experience that is reflected within it."