Red Ventures announces another acquisition – its biggest yet

Red Ventures CEO Ric Elias during an interview in July 2015.
Red Ventures CEO Ric Elias during an interview in July 2015.

In its biggest acquisition to date, Red Ventures, the marketing and technology firm in Indian Land, S.C., said Monday it is buying personal finance website Bankrate for $1.4 billion, adding to its its growing stable of consumer sites.

Privately held Red Ventures, known for aggressive hiring at its campus south of Charlotte, has also been growing in recent years through a series of acquisitions and investments.

Just last week, the company said it was buying Choose Energy, a Texas-based online marketplace for electricity and natural gas, for an undisclosed amount. It had previously bought another energy marketplace in 2012 called

Last fall, Red Ventures also bought Soda, a Seattle-based tech firm that owns online brands including, Freshome and The Simple Dollar. This deal followed an acquisition of marketing firm Imagitas and investments in companies such as CourseHouse, Treehouse and Ampush.

In its latest deal, Bankrate shareholders will receive $14 per share in cash, a 31 percent premium over Bankrate’s three-month average closing price.

Red Ventures said the deal will enhance its financial services presence and help it build relationships between consumers and financial services providers.

In a statement, Red Venture CEO Ric Elias said New York-based Bankrate had built an “impressive and powerful” array of consumer financial services brands.

“Our capabilities are highly complementary,” he said. “ We see significant potential to leverage our technology, strategic partnerships and digital expertise and build on Bankrate’s leading platforms to help more consumers find the financial services and products that meet their needs.”

The transaction is expected to close in 2017, pending approval by Bankrate shareholders and regulators. A Red Ventures spokesperson declined to comment beyond Monday’s news release.

In a statement, Bankrate CEO Kenneth Esterow said the company, as part of Red Ventures, will be “better positioned than ever to be the partner of choice for providers to acquire customers.” In early trading Monday, Bankrate shares were up about 9 percent to $14.02.

Founded in 2000, Red Ventures says it employs 2,700 in the Carolinas, Seattle and and Sao Paulo, Brazil. Bankrate has about 700 employees.

In January 2015, Red Ventures received an investment itself when private equity firm Silver Lake injected $250 million in return for a minority stake. In November of that year, the company broke ground on a project to double the size of its headquarters with help from job development tax credits from South Carolina.

Among its services, Red Ventures uses marketing technology and analytics to help clients such as DirecTV attract new customers.

Rick Rothacker: 704-358-5170, @rickrothacker