Scripps Puts uSwitch on Block

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Scripps Networks Interactive said Wednesday that it is seeking a buyer for its British online energy pricing service uSwitch and has hired Allen & Co. to head up the search.

Scripps purchased uSwitch in 2006 for about $366 million.

The service was initially started to help consumers in the United Kingdom switch energy providers in that country's deregulated energy market. Along with online shopping service Shopzilla, uSwitch made up the interactive services unit of SNI.

In a statement, SNI said the sale would have no bearing on Shopzilla, which SNI will continue to operate. The company said that Shopzilla is in the process of a competitive repositioning, including enhancing its product offerings, improving the overall customer experience and increasing its focus on measurable returns on investment for participating online merchants.

"Our objective is to find a buyer who fully appreciates the value of the powerful uSwitch brand and its market-leading position for energy switching in the United Kingdom," SNI chief financial officer Joseph NeCastro said in a statement. "While we believe firmly in the vitality of the business, we've concluded that uSwitch and its future might be better served if it were part of another company that could add more direct value to a services comparison business."

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