Zoopla founder ‘commits to business’ with new pay deal

Alex Chesterman
Alex Chesterman

Zoopla founder Alex Chesterman lined up an £11 million share sale windfall yesterday together with a long-term bonus deal worth up to £20 million over four years after committing his future to the property website group.

Mr Chesterman’s new pay arrangements were disclosed as the group’s latest trading update showed it bouncing back from a sharp loss of customers to rivals. Shares in the FTSE 250 listed company rose five per cent.

The chief executive has already made more than £70 million from selling part of his stake in Zoopla when it floated on the stock market last summer.

This latest trading update revealed that Mr Chesterman had also been granted authority by chairman Mike Evans to sell 4.25 million shares over coming months, worth about £11 million at the current price “to settle personal tax and other liabilities”.

He will also be entitled to a new performance-based share plan “in order to appropriately incentivise and reward his continued substantial contribution to the performance of the group”.

The maximum number of shares that can be earned under the plan over a four-year period is 7.5 million, around £20 million at today’s share price.

His new pay deal replaces a previous long-term incentive plan worth up to about £450,000 a year.

Mr Evans said: “We are delighted that Alex has committed to the business for the foreseeable future.

“His entrepreneurial and creative approach has been the driving force behind the growth of the business over the last few years and will be instrumental in delivering enhanced shareholder value over the long-term.”

Zoopla came under pressure earlier this year after the launch of rival OnTheMarket.com - backed by estate agents - in January, in a bid to challenge Zoopla and Rightmove.

OnTheMarket allows its own members to belong to one of the other two search sites - but not both. Zoopla revealed in May that its member numbers had slumped.

But it said it had added a net 213 new UK estate agency branches since last providing an update on member numbers for April, taking the total to 12,556.

The total number also including overseas and other members was 16,131 at the end of the period covered by the latest trading update from April 1 to July 31.