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Takeover offer for Wales-based comparison site firm sees 22% share price rise.

SHARES in price comparison website operator money closed 22% up yesterday after the company revealed it had received a takeover offer.

Flintshire-based Money supermarket said the unsolicited bid, which has not been identified, was rejected by the firm's chief executive and majority shareholder Simon Nixon.

The firm's shares soared by nearly 50% in the wake of the announcement, but closed down at 84.25p.

Money supermarket operates under its flagship brands, money and travel, which allow consumers to compare prices for mortgages, loans, credit cards and package holidays.

Earlier this month shares in the company fell more than 32% after it revealed a potential pounds 7m revenue blow due to one of Britain's biggest loans providers, First Plus, stopping new business. The stock had not recovered from the slump.

The firm said: "The board of the company notes the recent movement in its share price and confirms that an initial approach regarding a possible offer for the company was made to Simon Nixon ... in his capacity as 54% shareholder in the company.

"The unsolicited approach did not contain indicative terms for any offer and has been rejected by Mr Nixon."

Money supermarket has seen business from its loans and mortgage division worsen this year as lenders have tightened up their loan criteria.

But the company has enjoyed strong growth in the credit cards and savings area.

The group, which is based in Flintshire, North Wales, said that its money arm revenues - which comprises more than half of group turnover - would deliver "high single-digit" growth compared to the same period last year.

After warning about the loss of business from First Plus, bosses said they would aim to mitigate the impact by sourcing additional capacity and reviewing costs and advertising spend.

Total visitors to money supermarket's websites soared by more than 50% to 91 million last year, with the number of transactions up by a similar level to 58.2 million.

The business was founded in 1999, and floated last summer with Mr Nixon banking more than pounds 100m
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jul 24, 2008
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