OC&C advises on two private equity deals in the education sector

16 May 2019 Consultancy.uk 4 min. read

The M&A team of OC&C Strategy Consultants has supported two private equity backed deals in the education sector. The consultancy provided buy-side advisory to French investor Ardian during its acquisition of Study Group and sell-side advisory to TPG Capital during the sale of Times Higher Education to private equity group Inflexion.

The education sector has seen a spike in merger and acquisition activity in recent months, with private equity firms keen to buy into the lucrative sector, and tap into its reams of data. In late 2018, this saw international educational platform TES Global was purchased by private equity firm Providence for an undisclosed fee. Now, French buyout group Ardian has announced it will buy a majority stake in education provider Study Group from asset manager Providence Equity Partners, in order to build on its presence in key geographies through strategic acquisitions.

Study Group is a provider of international education in the UK and Europe, Australia, New Zealand and North America. The company supports 30,000 students from 142 countries, preparing international students who wish to enter leading English-speaking universities through educational courses that provide them with academic, language and learning skills. According to Reuters, the deal values Study Group at about £500 million, including debt. Led by CEO Emma Lancaster, Study Group believes it is poised to see strong growth under new ownership, while improving its offering for students via close partnerships with the world’s best universities.OC&C advises on two private equity deals in the education sector

Commenting on the deal, Olivier Personnaz, an Ardian Managing Director, said, “We are proud to invest in Study Group for the next phase of its development. The ambition of the management team, the quality of their long-term university partner relationships and the strength of its growth serve as proof of Study Group’s excellence.”

Advisory firm OC&C Strategy Consultants provided support to Ardian in assessing Study Group’s market position and growth prospects during the acquisition process. A statement from the firm congratulated Ardian on the successful acquisition of Study Group from Providence Equity Partners.

Elsewhere, another OC&C-supported deal saw Inflexion acquire Times Higher Education (THE) from TPG Capital. THE, formerly part of TES Global, has been carved out as an independent entity as part of the investment from Inflexion. The investment follows a period of significant growth, in which THE transitioned from a primarily UK-focused media company to a global data and insights business working with around 700 universities across the world. The deal was made by Inflexion’s dedicated mid-market buyout fund.

The existing THE management team will now work alongside Inflexion to address the growing demand from universities for data and branding products to improve performance and academic achievement, as well as to attract students, academics and funding. In addition to cross-selling to existing clients, there will be a focus on acquiring new customers and launching add-on products through enhancement of the company’s digital offering and continued expansion into new international markets.  

Simon Turner, Managing Partner, Inflexion, remarked, “Times Higher Education has an excellent brand and an exceptionally driven management team. By carving the business out, we can firmly focus on building its core strengths, namely through enhancing its digital presence and continuing its global expansion, particularly in the US and Asia. We look forward to working with management to build upon the strong foundations they’ve created.”

OC&C provided sell-side advisory for the deal, supporting vendor due diligence. The firm congratulated TPG Capital on the successful sale of THE, which it stated encompasses THE’s wide range of activities including its data, editorial, summits, hiring, branding and consultancy services.

OC&C Strategy Consultants is a global advisor to investors and corporate clients in a multitude of business sectors. Recently a team led by UK-based Partner Chris Woodland and US-based Partners Turkmen Deniz and Ed Plummer advised private equity firm 3i on the acquisition of Magnitude Software, an American provider of ERP software, from investor Audax Private Equity and the company’s management.