The online loan marketplace LendingTree has acquired one of its smaller competitors.

The Charlotte, N.C., company said Tuesday that it has purchased MagnifyMoney, a 3-year-old firm that helps consumers comparison shop for loans and other banking products.

The publicly traded Lending Tree paid $29 million in cash for MagnifyMoney and issued roughly $6.6 million worth of restricted stock to MagnifyMoney’s founders, Nick Clements and Brian Karimzad, that will vest if the combined company hits certain performance targets. LendingTree said in a news release that the total deal price could equal $39.5 million.

Douglas "Doug" Lebda, chief executive officer of LendingTree Inc.
CEO Doug Lebda said the MagnifyMoney addition "complements LendingTree's core business ... while engaging more consumers." Bloomberg News

The acquisition is LendingTree’s second in a week and third since last fall. On June 15, it acquired Deposits Online, a website that helps consumers compare deposit rates, and in November it bought CompareCards, a site that helps consumers compare and shop for credit cards.

In a news release, LendingTree founder and CEO Doug Lebda said that the deal is a continuation of LendingTree’s efforts to broaden its array of products and services. Founded as a site to help connect prospective homebuyers with lenders, LendingTree now helps borrowers shop for everything from credit cards to car loans to small-business loans.

“The MagnifyMoney team has built a successful content platform by generating organic search traffic through unbiased editorial content, a technique that complements LendingTree’s core business … while engaging more consumers," Lebda said.

MagnifyMoney tries to make it easy for consumers to quickly evaluate banking and credit products by writing reviews and scoring the products based on simplicity and fee structure.

A LendingTree spokeswoman said by email that New York-based MagnifyMoney will continue to operate independently and that LendingTree “will not intervene with MagnifyMoney's content production.”

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