2021 M&A and Investment highlights
2021 saw a strengthening of M&A capabilities across the ‘Big 4’ Comparison groups (CompareTheMarket, MoneySuperMarket, Red Ventures and GoCompare) with the completion of the deals announced in 2020. However, in a market where the performance across the key Comparison verticals varied significantly with the impact of Covid and other external factors, there was a slowing in M&A overall. MoneySuperMarket’s £101 million acquisition of leading cashback provider Quidco (Sequence Advised) was the largest and most innovative acquisition in 2021. The major acquisitions across 2020 and 2021 were all valued on EV/LTM EBITDA multiples in ‘the teens’.
Data & Tech
Data opportunities continued to drive some M&A and investment but a number of the key Comparison verticals served by B2B technology platform providers were impacted by Covid. Transunion made an investment in credit platform Monevo. Investment in credit-led financial Comparison services continued with ClearScore raising $200m and TotallyMoney receiving a follow-on investment.
One-stop personal finance ‘super apps’ continued to raise investment but the ability to cost-effectively attract and monetise users is yet to be proven. Players such as Yolt are now focused on B2B technology platform providers. With the Open Banking market yet to mature, acquisitions of B2B technology platform providers in this space were limited with Equifax acquiring long term partner AccountScore in a rare acquisition.
In general, technology is yet to be a key driver of significant M&A in Comparison with some verticals digitising at a slower pace than anticipated given structural issues in the industry. Indeed, the mortgage Comparison market saw some technology players exiting at an early stage of development with Red Ventures acquiring Mojo and Better.com acquiring Trussle.