Experian mulling PriceGrabber sale

Experian mulling PriceGrabber sale

Credit information agency Experian says it is "undertaking a review" of its US online price comparison service, PriceGrabber, which it acquired in December 2005.

In a statement responding to UK press speculation about a sale, Experian says it is reviewing PriceGrabber's "fit within the Experian portfolio".

Experian adds that the review is at an early stage and it will provide more details "when appropriate".

The credit referencing agency acquired the price comparison service for $485 million in December 2005.

According to a Sunday Times report, industry experts expect Experian to struggle to sell the unit for a higher price, particularly as the price comparison market has altered since 2005 and service providers are now facing higher "traffic acquisition costs" - where users are attracted by bidding for key words on Google - which have risen by up to 50% for comparison Web sites.

But the unit has been a strong performer for Experian, which kicked off a $80 million cost cutting programme earlier this year following a poor third quarter which saw the firm hit by the credit crunch.

The PriceGrabber business has performed well and helped offset losses incurred at LowerMyBills, another US price comparison site owned Experian which focuses on mortgages.

However last year UK insurance group Admiral ended discussions with private equity firms over the sale of a minority stake in its price comparison Web site, Confused.com, after failing to agree a price.

Market speculation had also focused on whether Admiral was looking to sell off its price comparison business ahead of the launch of a rival service by Tesco Personal Finance, a 50:50 joint venture between the supermarket and the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS).

Tesco launched its motor insurance comparison Web site in September.

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