The founders of price comparison website are set for a windfall after they agreed to sell to the owners of the Daily Mail for £22 million.

Karen Darby and Alistair Tillen will bank £4 million each from the sale of Simply Switch - with further payments over three years depending on their ongoing performance as co-chief executives.

Mr Tillen said it represented "a really good deal" for the company he set up with Ms Darby in 2002 to enable customers to compare prices of energy bills, credit cards and telephone and broadband providers.

Simply Switch makes money from "introduction fees" paid by providers when customers switch services through the website.

The success of the business helped earn Ms Darby the finance award at the CBI First Women Awards in June. She was also finalist in Cosmopolitan magazine's Woman of Tomorrow award.

The sale marks further diversification of newspaper groups into online businesses as they battle new forms of media such as the internet and a weaker advertising market.

Daily Mail & General Trust - which owns Daily Mail and Evening Standard publisher Associated Newspapers and regional press giant North-cliffe - also owns websites such as Jobsite, Find a Property and Prime Location.

DMGT said it would pay £16.5 million up front for Simply Switch - with £8 million taken by Ms Darby and Mr Tillen, £500,000 by other management, and £8 million by Bridges Community Ventures who funded the start-up of the company.

The remaining £5.5 million represents value held by management and has been rolled forward in the deal to act as a financial incentive for Ms Darby and Mr Tillen and their team to keep the company growing.

Mr Tillen said: "We get some of our consideration up front with the initial evaluation of the business and over three years the management team has the opportunity to get more money depending how the business does."

He added the deal with DMGT would "help us meet our aggressive growth plans" through its "huge marketing power".

"We needed a bigger partner," he said. "It is business as usual but we can grow much more quickly and expand our marketing to grow as a brand."

Once the deal is completed, Simply Switch will join the Associated Northcliffe Digital (AND) network of online businesses.

AND managing director Andy Hart said he was "delighted".