Journalist Martin Lewis hits jackpot as Moneysavingexpert sold for £87m

Martin Lewis today became one of richest journalists in history when his Moneysavingexpert.com website was sold for £87m.

Lewis will reportedly pocket £35m in cash and 22.1m in shares as part of the deal, and said he intends to give £10m of it to charity, including £1m to Citizens Advice.

The site was sold to the consumer website moneysupermarket.com in a deal that sees Lewis stay on as editor-in-chief of Moneysavingexpert.com.

The site was set up for £100 in 2003 and now employs more than 40 staff, almost half of whom are journalists.

Lewis worked in financial PR before changing career and studying broadcast journalism at Cardiff University in 1997.

He started his journalism career at the BBC before moving to satellite cannel Simply Money.

After six months they gave the title Moneysaving Expert and he started a regular slot called Deal of the Day.

When Simply Money closed, Lewis landed a column on the Sunday Express and then started doing freelance personal finance reporting for the BBC and Channel 5.

In a 2010 interview with Press Gazette, Lewis said: "Like most journalists who end up working for themselves, I started because I lost my job. If I hadn't lost my job I wouldn't have gone anywhere."

Moneysavingexpert.com came about when he began sending an email to friends called Martin's Money Tips. When his friends began forwarding the email on to their friends, he said 'I realised I had something".

He then set up the website and discovered he retained copyright for all his Sunday Express columns, and put them up on the site.

Within four months it was attracting 30,000 users and 10,000 had signed up for the newsletter, and his broadcast career took off when he landed a slot on ITV's This Morning.

The site now sends a weekly email to around five million subscribers, and according to its latest financial figures, the website reported revenues of £15.8m last year, up from £11.4m in 2010, with pre-tax earnings of £12.6m.

In July 2010 Lewis told Press Gazette how the website became a money-making venture in its own right: 'When I set it up I had absolutely no way of making money, and that was part of the plan… Once I got to the 40,000 user-mark, suddenly my server costs were going up to five or six hundred quid a month, which to a freelance journalist is not affordable.

'At that point I tried to find an ethical model for the site to make money. That was six months after it started, and we still have the same model.

'We don't have ads but we do have affiliate links. We have a strict Chinese wall between those and our editorial team. We are strictly journalists, nothing is manipulated.

'As soon as I introduced those I was quite surprised that it was more than enough to pay for the servers and quite a bit else."

In 2010 Lewis came second in Press Gazette's top-50 business journalists survey, second only to the BBC's Robert Peston.

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