Comparethemarket
Comparethemarket.com is widely known for its 'compare the meerkat' advertsComparethemarket.com/BGL

BGL, the owner of price-comparison giant comparethemarket.com, is eyeing a £1bn initial public offering (IPO) of its shares, the company confirmed in a statement today. The insurance, energy and credit-card comparison company, known for its TV adverts with talking meerkats, has hired investment banker Rothschild to provide assistance and advise on the floatation. BGL confirmed that it has been exploaring the option to float on the London Stock Exchange.

Sky News has reported that the company could be valued at £1bn (€1.31, $1.42) after the floatation. Should the IPO go ahead, BGL owner Budget Holdings Limited (BHL) would maintain a majority stake in comparethemarket.com.

"BGL Group can confirm it is considering listing on the London Stock Exchange. However, at this point, no decisions have been made and there can be no certainty that any process will be formalised," a spokesperson said in a statement.

Full-year sales were £507m in financial-year 2014. Pre-tax profit rose to £94m, up by 6.8% on 2013. It 2015 results are to come in March. Currently the biggest price-comparison site in Britain, comparethemarket.com launched in 2006. It focuses on insurance comparison, energy prices, and credit card and loan offers.

Rival Moneysupermarket has more than doubled its share price since floating in 2007. uSwitch was bought by property website Zoopla in April 2015. Price-comparison companies have been a big success in recent years, with more than a third of customers buying motor insurance via comparison websites.

The Financial Conduct Authority reviewed comparison platforms in 2014, fining that companies do not always provide consumers with all the information needed to make an informed decision.