Go Compare founder could net £100m if insurance site goes for a song

Hayley Parsons, who owns 23% of company valued at £500m, weighing up her options as shareholder Esure prepares to float

The founder of Go Compare, the insurance company famous for its TV adverts fronted by fictitious opera singer Gio Compario, could collect more than £100m if she pushes ahead with plans to sell the insurance comparison site.

Hayley Parsons, who founded Go Compare in 2006 and holds a 23% stake in the company, is reported to have hired accountants Grant Thornton to conduct a strategic review, including the possibility of a sell-off.

If she pushes ahead with the sale it will cap a phenomenal rags-to-rich tale. The Cwmbran-born 38-year-old left school at 16 with just five GCSEs, but stormed up the ranks at Cardiff-based insurer Admiral, where she worked on the company’s own insurance comparison site, Confused.com.

She quit Admiral and founded Go Compare in 2006. Go Compare now provides a quote every second and reported pre-tax profits of £34.7m, up 15%, last year. Parsons, who describes Go Compare as “my baby”, picked up £3.2m in dividends. The company has been valued at £500m.

Parsons, who received an OBE for services to the economy in the New Year’s honours list, told the Sunday Times: “I’ve done all right for a Welsh girl from the valleys, eh?”

The mother-of-two is thought to be weighing up her options ahead of a planned stock market flotation of car insurer Esure, which owns 49% of Go Compare, according to the Independent on Sunday. Esure, which is fronted by Michael Winner in its own much-parodied TV adverts, has said it has “no plans to increase its stake” in Go Compare.

But industry rumours have speculated that Peter Wood, the founder of Esure, could make an approach to buy the 51% of Go Compare his company does not already own.

Wynne Evans, the Welsh tenor who plays mustachioed opera singer Gio Compario, has topped the classical album charts this year thanks to his starring role in the Go Compare adverts.

Go Compare and Grant Thornton declined to comment.

Rupert Neate

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