OpenSesame Raises $28 Million in Growth Equity Led by FTV Capital

FTV Capital

elearning Leader Expands Machine Learning Curation to Revolutionize How Employees are Trained

Portland, Oregon — OpenSesame, the elearning innovator providing the world’s most comprehensive online catalog of curated employee training courses, today announced it raised a $28 million growth equity round led by FTV Capital. OpenSesame will use the proceeds to continue enhancing its machine learning-driven curation tools, expand its course offerings, and scale its sales and marketing functions to serve businesses worldwide. This funding round includes participation from existing investors including Altos Ventures. As part of the transaction, FTV partner Chris Winship will join the OpenSesame board of directors.

As workforce training rapidly shifts from classroom to online delivery, OpenSesame is disrupting the standard elearning model by curating the most comprehensive catalog of over 20,000 elearning courses from hundreds of the world’s top publishers and helping companies ensure the success of their training programs. OpenSesame helps businesses around the world find courses, map them to core competencies, sync them with a company’s learning management system (LMS) to increase utilization and improve learning & development (L&D) programs.  OpenSesame has flexible buying options to meet every training need, and the technology platform is simple to integrate and use. Leveraging machine learning and expert advisors, OpenSesame helps curate the best variety of courses for evolving enterprise training requirements, driving employee engagement and increasing elearning utilization. OpenSesame serves a wide range of clients, including governments and Global 2000 companies in services, manufacturing, technology, and highly regulated industries such as financial services and health care.

“Our goal is to make elearning accessible, convenient, and meaningful to all EnerSys employees.” said Drew Krajewski, director of global training & development for EnerSys, a Fortune 1000 OpenSesame customer. “Actual customer service of this caliber is a rarity, and OpenSesame does it right. We don’t consider OpenSesame a vendor. They’re our partner.”

“Based on FTV Capital’s long and successful enterprise SaaS investment track record, we are excited to have them lead our Series C funding,” said Don Spear, CEO of OpenSesame. “This investment coupled with their extensive network of strategic advisors will help OpenSesame to continue to rapidly grow and innovate to meet the constantly evolving training needs of our customers as they prepare their employees for the future of work.”

“Enterprises spend over $30 billion annually on external learning content and programs to maintain a highly skilled, competitive workforce, as well as to comply with complex regulatory requirements,” said Chris Winship, FTV Capital partner. “OpenSesame is capitalizing on key trends that are transforming the workplace, including a more mobile workforce, evolving millennial preferences and behaviors, and the rapid adoption of enabling technologies such as cloud and collaboration. We are extremely impressed with the OpenSesame management team, the market leading solution they have built and their outstanding growth trajectory, and we are excited to join forces in this next phase of growth.”

About OpenSesame

OpenSesame helps develop the world’s most productive and admired workforces. With the most comprehensive catalog of elearning courses from the world’s top publishers, we are here to help you every step of the way, from finding courses, mapping them to your core competencies, syncing them with your LMS to increasing utilization and improving your L&D programs. Not only will you have the flexibility of multiple purchasing options from OpenSesame, you’ll find it simple to use and administer your e-learning courses. To learn more, visit

About FTV Capital

FTV Capital is a growth equity investment firm that has raised over $2.7 billion to invest in high-growth companies offering a range of innovative solutions in three sectors: enterprise technology & services, financial services and payments & transaction processing. FTV’s experienced team leverages its domain expertise and proven track record in each of these sectors to help motivated management teams accelerate growth. FTV also provides companies with access to its Global Partner Network®, a group of the world’s leading enterprises and executives who have helped FTV portfolio companies for two decades. Founded in 1998, FTV Capital has invested in 108 portfolio companies. FTV has offices in San Francisco and New York. For more information, visit

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Oakley Capital acquires leading maritime e-learning businesses Videotel and Seagull


Oakley Capital (“Oakley”) is pleased to announce that it has partnered with the management teams of SG MidCo AS (“Seagull”), and Videotel Marine Asia Limited and Super Dragon Limited (collectively “Videotel”), to acquire majority stakes in the businesses from their current shareholders, Herkules Private Equity Fund IV, and KVH Industries, respectively.

Over the past 40 years, Videotel and Seagull have established themselves as the best-in-class providers of e-learning to the maritime sector globally. Every year they each provide over 10,000 ships and installations with comprehensive and up-to-date compliance, risk and safety training that ensures adherence to International Maritime Organisation requirements. In 2018, the two companies collectively generated $50 million of revenue.

The digital transformation taking place in the shipping industry, as well as the increasingly complex regulatory framework, offers a significant opportunity for e-Learning providers. The management teams of Seagull and Videotel believe that this opportunity can be grasped most effectively by working together as a combined group. With both parties able to collaborate and share knowledge and resources, the two businesses will be able to provide their respective customers with a greater level of product and services.

Apart from an enhanced investment plan, there will be no immediate operational changes in either company except that Oscar Johansen, Chairman and Founder of Seagull, will take up the role of President of the combined group. Roger Ringstad and Raal Harris will continue to lead Seagull and Videotel, respectively.

This transaction continues Oakley’s successful track record of investing in the maritime and education sectors. Oakley previously invested in Headland Media, a provider of media and entertainment services to the offshore and shipping sectors, while its current investments include North Sails, the largest sail maker in the world; Inspired, one of the leading global premium schools groups; Career Partner Group, the fast-growing private university in Germany; Schülerhilfe, Europe’s largest after-school tutoring business; and AMOS, one of the leading international business schools in France.

Peter Dubens, Managing Partner of Oakley Capital commented:

“We are delighted to be partnering with the management teams of Seagull and Videotel, two companies we have admired for many years. Both teams are exactly the type of highly-ambitious professionals we continually seek to back. We look forward to supporting them in their plans to invest in new content and technology solutions based on the wealth of internal expertise which can now be shared across the group.”

As the shipping industry continues to make advancements in digitalisation, we see significant opportunities to further enhance the breadth and depth of products and services we offer our clients. In Videotel and Oakley we believe that we have the perfect partners to support us on that journey.
Roger Ringstad
Managing Director of Seagull

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Universidad Alfonso X El Sabio and CVC Fund VII team up to create new leader in education

Business will continue to be led by Jesús Núñez, founder and president of UAX, with new focus on increasing international reach

The Universidad Alfonso X El Sabio (UAX), one of the principal private education institutions in Spain and the oldest in its field, has announced today its partnership with the investment advisory firm CVC to build a new international leader in the higher education sector.

Established in 1994, UAX has a proven track record of success and offers a wide array of higher education options: 49 degree courses and 46 postgraduate and master programmes. The university specialises in academic development with a particular focus on the education of professionals destined for the corporate world, thanks to its 8,800 agreements with companies, institutions, associations and individuals. It currently has 8,500 students enrolled and an alumni community of over 37,000 graduates. UAX is recognised for its healthcare training with three healthcare centres, a veterinary hospital that is renowned Europe-wide, an innovative Virtual Simulation Hospital and a premium campus spanning over 1 million square metres.

CVC will support the founding team led by Jesús Núñez, president of the university, to ensure continued growth in Spain and internationally, both on campus and online. The five-year plan includes both organic and inorganic growth. Organic growth will be driven by expanding the current offering, growing the number of online students and strengthening its professional training.

The higher education sector is currently facing several challenges, including greater international competition, the digitalisation of courses, and new professional skills. To address these challenges, the founders of UAX have sought a partner that will drive growth while continuing to ensure the highest standards of quality for students, faculty and researchers.

CVC Fund VII will become an indirect shareholder of UAX, providing the required financial resources for the business, while current shareholders will remain invested. CVC will bring to bear its international reach and industry links.

CVC Funds have been investing in Spain since 1997, primarily in healthcare, energy and infrastructure. CVC Funds are currently invested in QA Education, the UK’s leading business and IT training company.

The closing is expected once all relevant regulatory and competition authorisations have been secured.

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Cinven to acquire INSEEC U.


Investment in a leading European private higher education group

International private equity firm, Cinven, today announces that it has agreed the acquisition of INSEEC U. (‘the Group’), a leading European institution of private higher education and research. The consideration is not disclosed.

Founded in 1975 in Bordeaux, France, today INSEEC U. operates 16 schools worldwide with campuses across France, the UK, the US, China, Switzerland and Monaco, as well as online education programmes. INSEEC U. offers degrees and accreditation programmes principally in Management & Business, Engineering, Communications & Marketing and Political Science, providing courses for approx. 25,000 students annually. Over the past few years, INSEEC U. has become the first cross-disciplinary education platform in France, combining cutting-edge research, agile teaching, innovative teaching methods and CSR values, in order to provide strong and enduring employability to its students.

Having focused on the education subsector for some time, based on its attractive market dynamics, Cinven’s Business Services Sector team worked closely with its French Regional team to identify INSEEC U. as a compelling investment opportunity, given:

  • The European higher education market represents a growing and non-cyclical market, driven by the increasing numbers of students enrolling in higher education;
  • The private sector is gaining share within higher education, due to attractive employability prospects for graduates; and it has material scope for consolidation;
  • The Group has proven its ability to deliver strong organic growth across the economic cycle supported by the quality of its courses in attractive disciplines, strong student employment outcomes, its strong brand positioning and product innovation;
  • INSEEC U. has successfully developed its online education programmes, which have benefitted from investment in technology supported by the Group’s scale advantage, with further scope for significant growth;
  • INSEEC U. is well positioned to continue its consolidation of the highly fragmented private higher education market, both in France where it is already the market leader and internationally; and
  • INSEEC U. is led by a strong management team with a proven track record of developing the Group successfully over the long-term.

Bpifrance, the French government agency, has been a minority investor in INSEEC U. since 2016 and is fully committed to continue supporting the development of the business and the private higher education sector in the years ahead.

Rory Neeson, Partner at Cinven, said:

“Our Business Services Sector team has been focused on investment prospects in education for some time given the attractive trends we see in this sector. INSEEC U. represents an excellent opportunity given its strong student outcomes, market-leading position, and the scale and professionalism of its operations. In particular, INSEEC U. ranks as a leader across its key disciplines and is highly regarded by students and recruiters for both the quality of its teaching and its students’ post-graduation employability. We look forward to working with the highly talented management team, led by Catherine Lespine, to further grow the business in France and internationally, both organically and through acquisition.”

Pierre Estrade, Partner at Cinven, added:

“INSEEC U. operates in a highly attractive, scalable and resilient market, with strong underlying macro trends expected to continue driving growth, particularly across Europe. The Cinven team is highly experienced at growing businesses internationally as well as executing successful buy and build strategies and we look forward to working with the team at INSEEC U., led by Catherine Lespine, to achieve this.”

Nicolas Paulmier, Partner at Cinven added:

“In this fast changing world, higher and continuous education is a key enabler for societies to evolve. Through its size and agility, Inseec U is set to become a major European player in higher education.”

Catherine Lespine, Chief Executive Officer of INSEEC U., commented:

“We are delighted to be partnering with Cinven, whose strategy for our business is fully aligned with the vision the INSEEC U. senior management team has for the Group. We look forward to working together: continuing INSEEC U’s successful growth trajectory and benefitting from Cinven’s international footprint and significant experience of supporting growth both organically and through consolidation.”

The transaction is subject to customary regulatory and antitrust approvals.

Advisors to Cinven on the transaction included: Messier Maris et Associés and Financière de Courcelles (M&A), Eight Advisory (Financial), Freshfields (Legal), TAJ (Tax), BCG and PMSI (Commercial)

Advisors to the Group and Shareholders on the transaction included: Rothschild (M&A), PwC (Financial), Linklaters (Legal, Tax), TAJ (Legal), LEK (Commercial), Fidufrance (Management)

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ARDIAN acquires a majority stake in STUDY GROUP, the leading international education provider in the UK, Australia and North America


London, February 21, 2019 – Ardian, a world-leading private investment house, announces it has reached an agreement to acquire a majority stake in Study Group, the leading provider of international education in the UK and Europe, Australia, New Zealand and North America, from Providence Equity Partners, a premier global asset management firm.

Each year, Study Group supports around 30,000 students from 142 countries on campuses spread across three continents. Study Group prepares international students, who wish to enter leading English-speaking universities, through educational courses that provide them with the academic, language and learning skills needed to succeed. Study Group is a market leader in the UK and in Australia, and partners with 48 prestigious universities.

A world leader, Study Group has the highest number of partner universities which fall within the Global Top 200 university ranking of the market. The International Education pathway market has grown by 15% p.a. in volume historically and is forecast to continue to grow double-digit in the years to come.

David Leigh, the Chairman of Study Group, commented: “It has been a great privilege to lead the excellent team at Study Group over the past six years. Led by CEO Emma Lancaster, the organisation is poised to continue its strong growth under new ownership, providing excellent outcomes for students via close partnerships with many of the world’s best universities.”

Olivier Personnaz, Managing Director in Ardian Buyout team added: “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. Alongside the management team, we will work to drive further growth and build on the Group’s presence in key geographies through strategic acquisitions. Through our investment, more students will be able to realize their academic potential at leading international universities.”

Dany Rammal, Managing Director at Providence Equity, said: “We are pleased to have partnered with Study Group’s strong management team to improve academic outcomes for students around the world, grow the number of University Partners from 16 in 2010 to 48 today, and execute a number of strategic and operational efforts that position the Company well for its next phase of growth. We wish the team every success going forward.”

This acquisition remains subject to the authorization from FIRB in Australia.


Study Group is a leading provider of international education. With 48 university partners around the world, it enables students to succeed at degree level, by helping them develop the necessary study and language skills to which they may not have had access in their local education systems. Last year, around 30,000 students from 142 countries chose Study Group to provide them with life-changing learning experiences.


Ardian is a world-leading private investment house with assets of US$90bn managed or advised in Europe, the Americas and Asia. The company is majority-owned by its employees. It keeps entrepreneurship at its heart and focuses on delivering excellent investment performance to its global investor base.
Through its commitment to shared outcomes for all stakeholders, Ardian’s activities fuel individual, corporate and economic growth around the world.
Holding close its core values of excellence, loyalty and entrepreneurship, Ardian maintains a truly global network, with more than 550 employees working from fifteen offices across Europe (Frankfurt, Jersey, London, Luxembourg, Madrid, Milan, Paris and Zurich), the Americas (New York, San Francisco and Santiago) and Asia (Beijing, Singapore, Tokyo and Seoul). It manages funds on behalf of around 800 clients through five pillars of investment expertise: Fund of Funds, Direct Funds, Infrastructure, Real Estate and Private Debt.


Providence is a premier global asset management firm with approximately $40 billion in aggregate capital commitments. Providence pioneered a sector-focused approach to private equity investing with the vision that a dedicated team of industry experts could build exceptional companies of enduring value. Since the firm’s inception in 1989, Providence has invested in more than 180 companies and has become a leading equity investment firm focused on the media, communications, education and information industries. Providence is headquartered in Providence, RI, and also has offices in New York and London. For more information, please visit


Ardian: Olivier Personnaz, Bruno Ladrière, Edward Little, Benjamin Witcher, Michael Van Cauwenberge
Commercial Due Diligence: OC&C – Pedro Sanches, Zeeshan Ashraf
Financial Due Diligence: EY – Matt Harvey, Mark Griffiths
Tax: EY – Karen Kirkwood, Michael Atkinson, Sachika Yamawaki
Corporate: Allen & Overy – Karan Dinamani, Hayley Elsley, William Hayward
Financing: Allen & Overy – Robin Harvey, Sarbajeet Nag, Alex Bond


Tel: +44 207 3675 240
Katie Shuff
Tel: +44 (0)7958 441840
Sard Verbinnen & Co
Conrad Harrington
Tel: +44 207 4671 050

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Francisco Partners Makes Growth Investment in Civitas Learning

Franciso Partners

Backing from leading technology and education investors will accelerate growth and support the further unification of Civitas Learning’s student success solutions

AUSTIN, TEX. — Civitas Learning today announced a significant growth investment from Francisco Partners, alongside current education and impact investors including Rethink Education, SJF Ventures, and Lumina Foundation. The Austin-based company pioneered the use of advanced data science, design thinking, and machine learning to inform initiatives and improve student outcomes.

More than 350 colleges or universities worldwide now use Civitas Learning’s popular cloud-based platform and Student Success Suite to engage and nudge students, guide course planning and class scheduling, and support case management by advisors and faculty. By integrating data from historically disparate sources, institutions can also use the platform to measure the impact of the wide array of student success initiatives across their institutions.

“In the seven years since we launched with our first cohort of partners, the application of advanced analytics for student success has undergone a dramatic evolution, and is now making a profound impact on institutional policy, practice, and student outcomes,” said Charles Thornburgh, Co-Founder of Civitas Learning. “This investment enables our team to continue delivering on the promise of personalized and actionable intelligence for colleges and universities, while supporting the integration required to streamline and deploy our solutions quickly, seamlessly, and at scale.”

One of the nation’s most active growth investors in education technology, Francisco Partners previously led investments in several leading education software companies, including Discovery Education, a leading provider of digital content to K-12 education, and Renaissance, whose popular curriculum and tools are now used in more than one-third of U.S. schools.

“Civitas Learning pioneered the application of data science and machine learning in education in ways that have already changed the trajectory for tens of thousands of students,” said Jonathan Murphy at Francisco Partners. “They are positioned to significantly increase their educational and social impact, and we are excited about partnering with the team to accelerate the company to new levels of growth and impact across higher education.”

About Francisco Partners

Francisco Partners is an investment firm that specializes in technology and technology-enabled services businesses. Since its launch over 19 years ago, Francisco Partners has raised over $14 billion in committed capital and invested in more than 200 technology companies, making it one of the most active and longstanding investors in the technology industry. The firm invests in opportunities where its deep sectoral knowledge and operational expertise can help companies realize their full potential. For more information, please visit

About Civitas Learning

Civitas Learning is a student success intelligence platform leveraging each institution’s unique data to find and distribute the clearest path to improved higher education outcomes. We do this through our leading-edge technology, design thinking, and data science to achieve our goal to help a million more students. Today, Civitas Learning is a strategic partner to more than 350 colleges and universities, serving nearly 8 million students. Together with our growing community of partners, Civitas Learning is making the most of the world’s learning data to graduate a million more students per year by 2025. For more information, please visit

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EQT Credit is the largest lender in a second lien financing to support Jacobs Holding’s acquisition of Cognita


EQT Credit, through its Mid-Market Credit investment strategy, is pleased to announce that it is the largest lender in a EUR 255 million second lien term loan financing solution to support Jacobs Holding AG’s (“Jacobs”) investment in Cognita (the “Company”).

Launched in 2004, Cognita is a leading global provider of private premium K-12 education services, currently comprising 72 schools in eight countries across Asia, Europe and Latin America. The Company employs 7,000 teaching and support staff, educating over 40,000 students across a diverse range of international, national and bilingual curricula.

Paul Johnson, Partner at EQT Partners’ Credit team, Investment Advisor to EQT Credit, commented:

“Cognita is strongly positioned as one of the largest K-12 platforms globally, with a diversified portfolio of high-quality schools that is well invested to support continued growth and has an outstanding management team with a strong performance track record. EQT Credit looks forward to supporting the Company in its future development.”

Nakul Sarin, Director at EQT Partners’ Credit team, Investment Advisor to EQT Mid-Market Credit, added: “EQT is proud to partner with Jacobs and Cognita for the third Mid-Market Credit investment in the education sector. We would like to thank EQT’s Industrial Advisors who, as senior executives in the European and Asian private school sectors, provided key support and insight to the EQT Credit deal team throughout the due diligence process.”

Paul Johnson, Partner at EQT Partners, Investment Advisor to EQT Credit, +44 203 372 9424
Nakul Sarin, Director at EQT Partners, Investment Advisor to EQT Credit, +44 208 432 5420
EQT Press Office, +46 8 506 55 334,

About EQT
EQT is a leading investment firm with more than EUR 50 billion in raised capital across 28 funds. EQT funds have portfolio companies in Europe, Asia and the US with total sales of more than EUR 19 billion and approximately 110,000 employees. EQT works with portfolio companies to achieve sustainable growth, operational excellence and market leadership.

More info:

About EQT Credit
EQT Credit invests through four complementary strategies: Senior Debt, Mid-Market Credit (direct lending), Core Value and Credit Opportunities. Since inception, EQT Credit has invested in excess of EUR 5.5 billion in about 180 companies. EQT Credit’s direct lending strategy seeks to provide flexible, long- term debt capital solutions to medium-sized European businesses, across a wide range of sectors. These businesses may be privately-owned corporates seeking alternative funding to grow or be the subject of private equity-led acquisitions or refinancings.

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Veritas Capital Completes Acquisition of Cambium Learning Group

Veritas Capital

DALLAS, TX. – Cambium Learning® Group, Inc. (“Cambium” or the “Company”), a leading educational technology solutions company committed to helping all students reach their full potential, announced today that it has completed its previously announced sale to certain affiliates of Veritas Capital, a leading private equity investment firm.

The Company also completed its previously announced acquisition of VKIDZ Holdings Inc. (“VKidz”), an award winning edtech company dedicated to helping deliver the best education to students using digital solutions.

“We are excited to welcome the Cambium management team and employees and look forward to supporting their many growth opportunities ahead,” said Ramzi Musallam, CEO and Managing Partner of Veritas Capital. “The education technology space is a key focus area for Veritas, and we believe our partnership with Cambium will accelerate the company’s mission of improving outcomes for districts, educators, students and parents.”

John Campbell, Chief Executive Officer of the Company commented, “We are thrilled to partner with Veritas Capital as we embark on the next chapter of our long-term growth. I am proud of the transformation we have accomplished at Cambium as we continue to improve our product suite in terms of technology, efficacy, and engagement. We look forward to helping even more students with the addition of VKidz.”

“It has been our pleasure to work with John and the world-class team at Cambium,” said David Bainbridge, Managing Director of Veronis Suhler Stevenson (“VSS”), an affiliate of the former majority stockholder of the Company. “Since our investment, we have partnered with management to invest in new technology, execute strategic acquisitions, and implement initiatives to accelerate the Company’s growth, and are proud of the progress the Company has made in transitioning to a digital subscription business. We thank Cambium’s leadership and employees for their tremendous efforts and collaboration over the years and wish them well in their next phase of growth.”

Cambium Learning® Group’s stock will cease trading on the NASDAQ under the ticker symbol ABCD effective today.

Macquarie Capital acted as the Company’s financial advisor and Lowenstein Sandler LLP acted as the Company’s legal counsel in connection with the transactions.

Schulte Roth & Zabel LLP acted as Veritas Capital’s legal counsel in connection with the transactions.

About Cambium Learning Group

Cambium Learning® Group, Inc. is an award-winning educational technology solutions leader dedicated to helping all students reach their potential through individualized and differentiated instruction. Using a research-based, personalized approach, Cambium Learning Group, Inc. delivers SaaS resources and instructional products that engage students and support teachers in fun, positive, safe and scalable environments. These solutions are provided through Learning A-Z® (online differentiated instruction for elementary school reading, writing and science), ExploreLearning® (online interactive math and science simulations and a math fact fluency solution) and Voyager Sopris Learning® (blended solutions that accelerate struggling learners to achieve in literacy and math and professional development for teachers). We believe that every student has unlimited potential, that teachers matter, and that data, instruction, and practice are the keys to success in the classroom and beyond. Come learn with us at

About Veritas Capital

Veritas Capital is a leading private equity firm that invests in companies that provide critical products and services, primarily technology and technology-enabled solutions, to government and commercial customers worldwide, including those operating in the aerospace & defense, healthcare, technology, national security, communications, energy, government services and education industries. Veritas seeks to create value by strategically transforming the companies in which it invests through organic and inorganic means. For more information on Veritas Capital and its current and past investments, visit

About VSS

Veronis Suhler Stevenson ( is a private investment firm that invests in the information, education, healthcare, and tech-enabled business services industries.  VSS provides capital for growth financings, recapitalizations, strategic acquisitions and buyouts to lower middle market companies and management teams with the goal of building companies organically as well as through a focused add-on acquisition program.  VSS makes privately-negotiated investments across the capital structure and invests in situations requiring control or non-control equity, mezzanine securities and structured equity securities.

Media Contacts:

Cambium Learning Group, Inc.
Barbara Benson


Jody Burfening/Carolyn Capaccio

Veritas Capital
Andrew Cole/David Millar/Julie Rudnick
Sard Verbinnen & Co

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NPM CAPITAL sells educational service provider IDDINK GROUP to SANOMA LEARNING

NPM Capital

On 11 December 2018, Sanoma Learning announced its intention to acquire the educational service provider Iddink Group (‘Iddink’) from its current owner, NPM Capital. The acquisition comprises all parts of the group in the Netherlands, Belgium and Spain. After the acquisition, Malmberg and Iddink Group will collaboratively develop integrated digital solutions to improve and personalise secondary and vocational education. The intended acquisition is subject to approval from the Dutch Authority for Consumers & Markets (ACM) and the works council of Iddink Group.

Iddink Group is best known as a distributor of learning tools and as the developer of the widely used student information systems Magister and Eduarte. In recent years, Iddink Group has built a strong position as a supplier of digital learning platforms. Finnish company Sanoma Learning is the owner of leading educational publishers in several different countries, including Malmberg in the Netherlands and VAN IN in Belgium.

NPM Capital acquired Iddink Group in 2014. Bart Coopmans, Managing Director of NPM Capital, said in a brief explanation about the intended sale: ‘From 2014 onwards we have supported Iddink in its ambition to grow and its digital transition, with a shared mission to help improve the education landscape. We are convinced that the company will be able to further accelerate its successful digital strategy under ownership of a strong strategic shareholder such as Sanoma Learning.’


Collaboration for the sake of better education

The acquisition of Iddink Group will enable Sanoma Learning to create the most user-friendly and inspirational digital learning solutions in collaboration with their intended users in the education sector, thereby allowing schools to make a breakthrough in personalised learning methods. Of course Iddink Group will continue its close collaboration with all publishers and its solutions and platforms will remain available across the market. The companies will operate as separate operational companies, whose non-exclusive collaboration remains open to all other providers of content and platforms.


History, experience and vision

Malmberg (established in 1885) and Iddink (established in 1922) share a long history and a common vision on the future of education. John Martin, CEO of Sanoma Learning, believes the two will complement each other well: ‘We offer tailored solutions for students and aim to unburden schools. We complement each other in the development of educational methods, platforms and services. We share a common goal: to offer the best personalised and affordable educational solutions.’

Malmberg and Iddink Group have been working together for many years, with developments in digital technology leading to an increasing amount of overlap in their services. ‘I am enthusiastic about the fact that we will now be able to really offer educational solutions that meet the needs of modern education,’ said Wijnand Spring in ’t Veld, CEO of Iddink Group. ‘Malmberg, VAN IN and Iddink Group will continue their independent operations in the Dutch and Flemish market, each with their own specific portfolio of products and services. By lowering the thresholds between publisher and service provider we can optimally address the wishes of teachers, school managers, students and their parents.’


About Sanoma Learning

Sanoma Learning is one of Europe’s leading learning companies. It supports over a million teachers in their efforts to enable every student to fully develop his or her talents. With over 1,400 employees in companies in the Netherlands, Belgium, Poland, Finland and Sweden, net sales totalled over €300 million in 2017. Sanoma Learning is a subsidiary of Sanoma Corporation, the Finnish learning and media company listed on Nasdaq Helsinki. In the Netherlands, Sanoma’s best-known subsidiary is Sanoma Media Netherlands, publisher of titles such as, Donald Duck and Libelle.


About Iddink Group

Iddink Group operates in educational services in the Netherlands, Belgium and Spain. Through its three brands Iddink, Eduarte and Magister it offers digital learning environments, apps, and advanced learning tools and solutions that enable over two million users every day to develop their talents in a personalised manner. Also part of the Iddink Group is The Implementation Group (TIG), the leading business intelligence specialist for the education sector. The company employs over 300 people, more than half of the employees working in educational technology.

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Midlothian Capital Partners acquires PGL in £467m deal


London, 26 October, 2018

Midlothian Capital Partners (“MCP”) and a consortium of investors have agreed to acquire HB Education Limited (“HB Education”) – the holding company for PGL – for a value of £467 million.

HB Education is the UK’s leading outdoor education and study travel group. The market leading company provides residential adventure and study trips for schools, youth organisations and young people through the PGL brand, along with educational travel tours for schools and further/higher education students through NST, EST and Studylink. In addition, Travelplus (Germany) offers language travel and gap year experiences.

The vendor was Cox & Kings, the longest established travel company in the world.

This is Midlothian’s third consumer sector deal in the past two years following the £210m acquisition of Dobbies Garden Centres from Tesco in 2016 and the £110m purchase of Park Leisure, the holiday home operator, in 2017.

MCP received financing support through funds managed by Ares Management Ltd. The existing HB Education management team will stay in post and plan to expand the business both in the UK and internationally. It currently owns 26 Regional Activity Centres in the UK, France, Spain and Australia.

The company was founded in the late 1950’s by Peter Gordon Lawrence, initially providing canoe trips on the River Wye.  In 2007 it was acquired by Holidaybreak plc and merged with NST to create the leading experiential learning programme business in the UK. It was acquired by Cox & Kings in 2011.

Midlothian’s Neil Currie is Chairman-designate of HB Education. He said:

“HB Education is an industry-leading operator within both the residential outdoor activity and educational travel sectors. PGL is a much-loved brand among teachers and students and has created lasting, happy memories – including many among our own families.

We are delighted that the existing management team, led by CEO John Firth and CFO Peter Churchus, have agreed to remain with the company and partner with us. They have led HB Education impressively through its most successful growth period and their focus on customer satisfaction and team culture is a key reason for our interest in the group.”

Andrew Bracey of MCP, said:

“This transaction follows our recent acquisitions of Dobbies Garden Centres and Park Leisure and further demonstrates the strength of our network and operating model, as well as our ability to build close relationships with principals. PGL/HB Education adds another highly relevant and customer-focused business to our portfolio – crucial attributes within a rapidly changing consumer sector.”

Aidan Clegg of MCP, said:

“Cox & Kings have been excellent owners of the company, a pleasure to deal with and we look forward to continuing our relationship following the transaction.”

John Firth CEO of HB Education, said:

We are delighted that MCP has been chosen as the next owner of our company. We feel that MCP’s values align strongly with those of our staff and customers and we look forward to partnering with them as we open a new chapter in our long history of excellence and growth.”

Mike Dennis, Co-Head European Credit at Ares, said:

“We are delighted to have the opportunity to work with MCP and HB Education on this transaction. This is our third transaction with MCP and based on their significant experience in related sectors through their existing portfolio investments, we are confident that MCP represents a strong and appropriate partner for the company as it enters the next phase of its development”

Peter Kerkar, Group CEO of C&K, said:

“We are delighted that the education business has found a home with Midlothian as we are certain that they will continue to invest and develop the education business.”

Advisers to MCP include: Rothschild (financial), Slaughter and May (legal), and EY (accounting and tax).

Advisors to Cox & Kings include: Eversheds Sutherland (legal) and Baird (financial) and Axis Capital

Advisers to Ares include: Dechert LLP (legal)



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Nick Miles 07739 701634

James Olley 07974 982302


About Midlothian Capital Partners

Midlothian Capital Partners is a consumer-focused investment company. The three founders of MCP (Andrew Bracey, Aidan Clegg and Neil Currie) have more than 70 years combined experience in consumer facing businesses in corporate finance, private equity, research and business management. The three founders will all join the board of HB Education.

About Ares Management, L.P.

Ares Management, L.P. is a publicly traded, leading global alternative asset manager with approximately $121.4 billion of assets under management as of June 30, 2018 and 18 offices in the United States, Europe, Asia and Australia. Since its inception in 1997, Ares has adhered to a disciplined investment philosophy that focuses on delivering strong risk-adjusted investment returns throughout market cycles. Ares believes each of its three distinct but complementary investment groups in Credit, Private Equity and Real Estate is a market leader based on assets under management and investment performance. Ares was built upon the fundamental principle that each group benefits from being part of the greater whole. For more information, visit

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