Apax Partners has agreed to acquire personal-finance Web site Bankrate Inc. in a $571 million deal that is especially notable because it is all equity.
Bankrate got its start about 30 years ago as a print publisher of the newsletter Bank Rate Monitor, and through 1996 it was primarily a print publication business. In 1996, it started up Bankrate.com, and has built up its online operations over time, including with several acquisitions in 2008. The site now offers articles and tools that help consumers find such information as mortgage or CD rates.
The company generates revenue through advertising sales, lead generation, distribution arrangements, and traditional media avenues such as syndication of editorial content and subscriptions. Because many of its customers are in the financial sector and have been hard-hit by turmoil there, its revenue and income have suffered during the economic downturn.
Kenneth B. Marlin, managing partner of Marlin & Associates, an investment bank that focuses on technology and media companies, said Bankrate has a strong position in its sector, and should be well-positioned to benefit as the economy begins to improve.
“We’ve always been impressed by Bankrate,” said Marlin. “It is well managed and has achieved scale in this market. It has a clear leadership position in the sector, and for this reason, it has the ability to attract premium advertisers and charge premium rates.” However, Marlin said he doesn’t anticipate many more transactions like this one, simply because there aren’t many companies that have the scale Bankrate does.