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BEO/Hands On merger in Asia: Kaplan invests

In significant news for the education agency industry, a major Japan-based agency, BEO Ltd has announced its merger with Hands On Education Consultants in Thailand and investment from Kaplan as part of the deal. The news means a second investment into the distribution side of the business for education company Kaplan, following its acquisition of Pro Lingus in Switzerland in 2008.

BEO "will remain an independently managed organisation"

“In order to help with this [merger] we have received investment and support as part of a partnership with Kaplan,” BEO Director, Paul Taylor told The PIE News. He said BEO “will remain an independently managed organisation committed to serving all of its clients – including all of its universities, pathway and English language providers and other schools.”

“We have received investment and support as part of a partnership with Kaplan”

Taylor declined to reveal what stake Kaplan now had in the company. He said, “Both BEO and Hands On have strong aspirations to develop and it was clear that a merger together would create a much stronger organisation to do this. Investment from Kaplan will be used to facilitate development.”

At the moment, the two agency operations will share business operations.  The Hands On brand will continue exclusively in Thailand with plans for possible unification in the future. BEO told its partners in a newsletter, “We will consider unifying the brand over time. Over the coming months we will be integrating administration, contracts and invoicing and other processes as quickly as we can.”

Annually over 1,000 students enrol on overseas higher education and English language programmes through BEO and there are over 200 students on preparation courses in the BEO College in Japan.

Taylor and fellow director, Cameron Allen, will remain in place as managers at BEO. At Kaplan, however, a spokesperson confirmed that Kaplan CEO, David Jones, has now been named as now responsible for all transnational programmes (students travelling to study) as well as Asia Pacific following the departure of Mark Coggins, formerly CEO of Kaplan Asia Pacific.

British Education Office (beo) originally opened in Nagoya, Aichi in 2000 as the first institution in Japan to provide free support for formal study in the UK. It has grown substantially  in the past 12 years and now includes two student recruitment offices and teaching centres in Tokyo and Osaka and a student recruitment centre in central London.

Taylor said he was working for the British Council in Malaysia when he saw the opportunity to commercialise the type of service being provided and launched BEO. “I loved what I was doing and saw the opportunity to tie up all of what the British Council was doing for education in a commercial organisation.”

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