AUSTRALIAN insurance and personal finance comparison site, iSelect (ASX: ISU), has taken a controlling stake in its south east Asian counterpart iMoney.
For US$4.15 million (AU$5.3 million), iSelect increased its shareholding in iMoney from 23.8 per cent to 51.5 per cent.
The Australian group will invest a further US$4 million in iMoney to accelerate the Kuala Lumpur-based company's growth strategy.
iSelect managing director and CEO Scott Wilson says iMoney operates in a key strategic area for iSelect with a consumer market that is quickly growing, with a booming middle class.
"These countries [Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, and the Philippines] have high-growth middle classes and a combined audience of almost 200 million internet users," says Wilson.
"The countries that iMoney currently operates in are located in the world's fastest growing region, and feature a rapidly expanding credit and technology-savvy middle class."
The south east Asian countries have GDP growth rates averaging around 4 per cent to 6.5 per cent per annum.
"iMoney was recently named in the top 10 fastest growing FinTech businesses in Malaysia," says Wilson.
"The iMoney team has built an excellent business across the south east Asian region and iMoney is now set to reach scale and ubiquity as the leading destination for financial services comparison."
iMoney is in a high-growth phase, with revenue having increased by an average of over 80 per cent per annum over the past three years.
The Malaysian company is expected to post a FY18 loss before interest and tax in the range of US$1.2 to US$1.7 million as it scales to profitability.
"iMoney is at an exciting inflection point, with the ability to generate a substantial number of unique visitors," says Wilson.
"Incorporating iSelect's proprietary iConnect contact centre conversion technologies and know-how, and increasing iMoney's marketing efforts, present significant opportunities to substantially lift UV monetisation and increase conversion rates."
Following this morning's announcement, iSelect is trading up 0.75 per cent to $1.61 per share.
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