Learnlight, a London-based ed tech platform backed by Beech Tree Private Equity, is coming to market imminently, EducationInvestor Global can reveal.
This publication has learnt that early conversations with private equity buyers have taken place in the last couple of months. The sale process is run by Baird and is expected to officially launch in February-March.
The company has been marketed off of an EBITDA of around £10 million, with price expectation in the region of £150 million, according to an insider.
The deal would be an exit for Beech Tree Fund II, an £80 million buyout vehicle closed in June 2017, that invests tickets in the £10-30 million range into companies typically valued at between £10-75 million. The private equity firm is currently raising its third fund, which is understood to have a target of around £140 million.
Learnlight provides blended face-to-face, virtual and digital-based language and skills training to corporations and international institutions. It operates in 180 countries serving around 1,200 clients, including Deutsche Telecom, Hyundai, Siemens, Sony and The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
Learnlight has been pursuing an intense acquisition strategy in the last few years, with several strategic build-ups that have consolidated its market position across Europe.
The business has also benefitted from the strong growth experienced by the virtual learning segment after the Covid-19 outbreak and has been able to leverage its expertise in the sector to further expand its client base and geographical reach.
Learnlight was originally founded in Spain in 2007 as Learnlight Group by chief executive Benjamin Joseph and chief operating officer Rupert Hillier.
Beech Tree acquired the company in January 2017 and created Learnlight Holdings with the aim of building an international virtual training platform specialising in language and soft skills courses.
In January 2017, Learnlight Holdings also acquired Communicaid, a languages and communication skills training business based in London with operations in Paris and clients including the European Central Bank, BAE Systems, Barclays, Tesco, Technip and Jaguar Land Rover.
The combined consideration for both acquisitions was £18.6 million. Beech Tree injected £16.7 million of funds into the company, in addition to £6.4 million of deferred consideration for the acquisition of Learnlight Group.
In April 2017, Learnlight acquired Training Express, a Spanish learning language provider specialised in the design and management of regional and global training courses for companies, which was fully absorbed within the Learnlight brand.
Two years later, the company bought German language training provider Arenalingua. The business contributed £2.7 million to the group’s turnover, which reached £22.2 million in 2019, with gross profit of around £13 million.
The company continued to build up its portfolio of language training assets during the pandemic with two strategic acquisitions inked in 2021.
Last March, Learnlight acquired IBE, an Italian language training provider which generates annual turnover of around €3 million and provides blended language-learning solutions to Italian and international corporations such as Intesa San Paolo, Pirelli and Roche.
A few months later, Learnlight bought Georgal, a Mexican corporate language training company that operates in Latin America, with clients including Bimbo, BBVA, Nestlé and Bolsa Mexicana.
Date published: 19 January 2022