BGL float will happen when conditions are right, says chief executive

Broking and price comparison group BGL is “very likely” to float on the stock exchange in 2018 if it decides this is the right course of action, according to chief executive Matthew Donaldson (pictured).

The company, which owns UK price comparison site Comparethemarket as well as broking brands Budget and Junction, has been gearing up for a listing on the stock market for more than a year. Last year’s results state that it was originally aiming for an initial public offering in early 2017.

It has set up a new structure, including a new holding company BHL (UK) Holdings, in preparation for a float.

Speaking to Insurance Times about BGL’s 2016/2017 results, released today, Donaldson said of the potential BGL float: “We are quite flexible and open, and we will [float the company] when it is right for shareholders and the market is right. 2018 is a very likely date for us to do that.”

He said the new holding company structure was about “making sure all the right assets are in all the right places in the balance sheet” ahead of a possible float.

He added: “We have spent the last year or so getting ourselves into a position where we were essentially IPO ready. The motivation for the IPO is about liquidity and potential diversification across the globe for our major shareholders.”

Revenue and profit growth

BGL boosted its underlying revenue by 14% to £585m in the year to 30 June 2017, and reported a 19% increase in profit before tax to £126m.

The revenue figure excludes £10m of revenue from the 2015/2016 year of account from discontinued operations.

BGL underwent a swathe of restructuring in the 2015/2016 financial year, which included the sale of law firm Minster Law and its Dutch price comparison site Verzekeringssite. The one-off charges for these changes pushed the company to a £24.8m loss after tax in 2015/2016. Excluding the changes, underlying profit before tax was £106.5m.

Donaldson said of the 2016/2017 performance: “We are delighted with the results. They are ahead of our expectations and certainly when we compare it with our listed peers we are ahead of the market.”