Personal finance journalist Martin Lewis secured his own multimillion-pound fortune today by agreeing the sale of his website for up to £87 million.
Lewis has managed to cash in on austerity by giving advice to cash-strapped consumers on a wide range of matters. He set up MoneySavingExpert.com in 2003 and now sends a weekly email to around five million subscribers.
The site is to be bought by price comparison website MoneySupermarket.
Lewis, who is well known as a television pundit on money matters, will receive £60 million upfront in a mixture of cash and shares and a further £27 million conditional on meeting targets over the next three years.
He plans to donate £10 million to charity from the deal, including £1 million to Citizens Advice, while he will retain full control over the website. The rest of the donations will be put into a Charities Aid Foundation which will distribute it over the coming years.
He said: "With the rest of the funds allocated to charity, there are so many good causes, so I want time to think about where the donations can do the most good, and not splurge them all at once."
According to Google Analytics, the MoneySavingExpert website attracted 39 million unique visitors and around 277 million page impressions in the year to October 31. It generated revenues of £15.7 million over the same period.
Lewis said the deal, which needs the approval of MoneySupermarket shareholders, ensured the website would be around for many years to come.
He added: "MoneySavingExpert.com has become part of people's daily lives, far bigger than the man who founded it, and now is the right time for it to stand on its own two feet.
Martin Lewis with his wife, 5 News weather presenter, Lara Lewington
"I originally set the site up as a way to support my broadcasting work, and had no clue it would ever grow into the huge beast it now is."
Lewis said he chose Moneysupermarket because it is not owned by any product providers and had signed up to an editorial code which ensures the website's content will be free from commercial pressures.
When pressed on the sums of money involved he said: "Of course, I'd be silly to say that the large amount of money for me, my team and to charity wasn't a big part of the decision.
"I'm proud to have built an enterprise so big, that's helped so many people, created employment for 40 people, and never charged a penny for people to use it."
He will stay as editor-in-chief for the next three years, with the help of Moneysupermarket's resources and the website's existing 42-strong staff.
"After that, the door is open for me to carry on, and I hope to do so, though perhaps with fewer hours than now, so I can spend more time on my media work and other projects I'm passionate about. These include getting financial education on the curriculum," Lewis said.
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