E.W. Scripps has acquired uSwitch.com, a free U.K. online price-comparison site for home services and personal finance (gas, electricity, home phone, digital television, broadband, credit cards, and secured and unsecured personal loans) using a series of calculators it has developed to evaluate price, type of service, location and payment method, among other factors. uSwitch and Scripps's comparison-shopping biz Shopzilla will form the foundation of a newly created interactive media division of Scripps.
Scripps bought Shopzilla in June 2005; it has expanded across Europe, with offices in the U.K. and websites in the U.K., France and Germany. Tim Peterman, senior vice-president of interactive media for Scripps, will oversee business development for the new division.
uSwitch itself owns leading U.K. local information site UpMyStreet.com, which helps customers choose new places to live, save time and money in and around their homes, and find local shops and services.
Scripps paid $366 million in net cash for 100 percent of the outstanding shares of privately held uSwitch Ltd; Scripps will finance the transaction by borrowing under its commercial paper program.
For the full year 2006 uSwitch is expected to generate approximately $10 million to $15 million in segment profit on revenue of $40 million to $45 million. Revenue last year was $25 million. The majority of uSwitch's revenue is from commissions paid by participating service providers; it has contractual arrangements with the leading providers in each home service category.
"The addition of uSwitch to our portfolio of interactive businesses, including Shopzilla, is intended to position Scripps to take full advantage of the rapid growth of online comparison shopping for both products and essential home services," said Kenneth W. Lowe, president and chief executive officer for Scripps. "We believe the uSwitch service and brand provide a sturdy platform on which we can expand into Europe and beyond."