Scripps Networks Interactive Exec. VP/CFO Joseph NeCastro says the company still believes in the viability of uSwitch, but that it might fit better with another owner. SNI has hired Allen & Company to seek a buyer for the UK-based website.
“Our objective is to find a buyer who fully appreciates the value of the powerful uSwitch brand and its market-leading position for energy switching in the United Kingdom,” said NeCastro. “While we believe firmly in the vitality of the business, we’ve concluded that uSwitch and its future might be better served if it were part of another company that could add more direct value to a services comparison business. Further, the success our team at uSwitch has had positioning its energy-switching business for future growth makes this precisely the right time to pursue a transaction,” he added.
The plan to sell uSwitch drew a thumbs-up from Barclays Capital analyst Anthony DiClemente. “We believe that a cleaner asset mix for SNI could make SNI a more attractive potential takeout candidate for a larger media entity at some point in the future,” he said in a note to clients.
Founded in 2000 following the deregulation of energy supplies in the UK, uSwitch has grown to become the United Kingdom’s leading destination for consumers seeking the best rates for electricity and natural gas services. More recently, uSwitch also has expanded its price comparison and switching product offerings into other service categories, including personal finance, auto insurance and telecommunications.
No timetable for completion of a transaction has been established.
uSwitch is one of two online subsidiaries that comprise the Interactive Services business segment at Scripps Networks Interactive. The other subsidiary is Shopzilla, which includes its related online comparison shopping brand, BizRate. SNI said the decision to seek a buyer for uSwitch has no bearing on Shopzilla, which the company will continue to operate.