One of Wales’ wealthiest men has just become £170m richer – after selling a 15% stake in the Moneysupermarket.com price comparison website he helped set up 14 years ago.
Internet millionaire Simon Nixon, 45, is getting rid of 80 million shares in the first major disposal of his stock since the price comparison website floated in 2007.
It is the latest boost in the personal wealth of the university dropout turned financial adviser.
Mr Nixon – who was educated at St Richard Gwyn School in Flint, and later quit Nottingham University because he found his accountancy course “boring” – banked £103m when the business went public.
Following Wednesday’s sale, arranged by Credit Suisse and Citigroup, Mr Nixon will be subject to a nine-month “lock-up” period.
During that he will be unable to sell any of his remaining Moneysupermarket shares.
“Simon remains a major shareholder and will continue to play a key role on the board,” Chairman Gerald Corbett said.
Mr Nixon is now switching to more of a backseat role. He stepped down as chief executive in 2008 and in April moved from executive deputy chairman to a non-executive position.
Philip Beresford, who compiles The Sunday Times Rich List, aid: “Nixon’s stake is now worth £518m just before the £165m share sale announced on June 5, 2013.
“Share sales at the float of £105m, property and past dividends, take him to £748m.
“He is now the 128th richest person in Briton, but as he is not a tax exile, will face a pretty hefty tax bill on this latest sale when it has gone through, so I suspect inland revenue will get well over £25m from the latest sale when it has gone through.”
In the most recent Sunday Times Rich List, Mr Nixon was listed as the fourth richest person in Wales with an estimated wealth of £733m.
He was behind only venture capitalist and Google investor Michael Moritz (£1.125bn), telecoms entrepreneur and Celtic Manor owner Sir Terry Matthews (£1.122bn) and Specsavers founder Douglas Perkins and family (£870m).
Moneysupermarket.com, based in Ewloe, Flintshire, was launched 14 years ago following the success of an earlier mortgage sourcing company.
It recently posted a 30% rise in annual pre-tax profits to £31.5m but was affected by the depressed savings market.
It bought Cardiff University educated journalist Martin Lewis’s MoneySavingExpert website for £92.5m last September.
That was set up by Mr Lewis in 2003 at a cost of just £100 and now sends a weekly email to five million subscribers.
Mr Beresford thought the sale “very nice for Mr Nixon”.
“Clearly the business is going pretty well,” he said.
“At the moment he is taking more of a backseat, so I suspect he wants to diversify his wealth into other areas.
“His wealth managers will have said, ‘Why don’t you sell down a bit in Moneysupermarket?’”
Mr Nixon also runs a luxury holiday home business, Simon Escapes, which has a property in Abersoch.
“You don’t want to have all your eggs in one basket,” Mr Beresford said.
“Things might be going well now but who knows what might happen in the future?”
Mr Nixon’s shares may not hold their value.
“The stock market is a very volatile place,” Mr Beresford said.
Richard Jones, whose family hail from Wales, became rich at 24 when he and his two partners sold their music website Last FM to CBS for £140m.
He said: “Taking some money off the table, I guess it is the right time for him to do that.
“I don’t know what his circumstances are but I expect someone approached him.
“I expect they get a lot of offers. And whoever it was made him an offer he could not refuse.
“If you are running a popular online business you tend to get people sniffing around fairly regularly.
“There is quite a lot of interest in internet companies.”
Separately, Moneysupermarket announced a special dividend payout for investors of 12.92p per ordinary share.
It said revenues for the year to date rose 10% on a year ago. Stock rose more than 3% on the announcements.
Numis Securities claimed despite the update it remained cautious about the shares amid fears it could face a challenge from internet giant Google in the price comparison sector.
Co-founder Duncan Cameron sold his stake in Moneysupermarket ahead of the flotation for £162m in 2007.