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The biggest takeovers of the last 12 months

The last twelve months have seen a flurry of acquisitions in the English language teaching sector, and we have word that there will be even more news released soon… We take you through some of the biggest deals of 2010 and 2011 so far.

The team at ELC York, acquired by TUI Education

“2011 is EC’s 20th year of operation and it’s been an extremely exciting year.” Andrew Mangion, Executive Chairman of EC

EC purchases three LSC schools

From January 2012 Maltese-owned EC English Language Centres will run three LSC centres in Canada.

The move provides the EC with an important entry point to Canada, which is the third largest EFL destination globally; Vancouver and Toronto are also considered two of the most popular destinations in the language travel industry.

EC plans to invest in the Canadian schools’ facilities and develop a wider-range of programmes, and will also teach French for the first time at the Montreal centre, taking the number of languages it operates in to seven.

“2011 is EC’s 20th year of operation and it’s been an extremely exciting year with no less than six new schools joining our group,” said Andrew Mangion, the Executive Chairman of EC. “We’ve also invested in seven new properties in major cities around the world… I see lots more excitement for our company over the next decade.”

Sprachcaffe acquires Geos North America

Germa- based Sprachcaffe Languages Plus, which provides tuition in English, French, Spanish, Italian, German, Chinese and Arabic across the world, increased its network of language centres to 31 by buying the Geos North America school chain this September. Sprachcaffe now has 12 language centres in the US and Canada in locations such as New York, San Francisco, Vancouver and Victoria.

GEOS, Montreal

GEOS Montreal, which was bought by Sprachcaffe in September

Alberto Sarno, CEO of Sprachcaffe Languages Plus said, “Nothing will change for students except that we can now provide even better support and services. Both agents and students will benefit from our collaborative experience in organising professional English courses.” It is likely that agents and students will gain from a wider range of programmes and booking options as well.

ELS acquires Universal English College in Sydney

ELS Educational Services, the leading recruiter of international students for US higher education, acquired Universal English College (UEC) in Sydney this October, increasing its reach into the Australian pathway market.

UEC (which will now be known as ELS Universal English College) is one of Australia’s most respected English language schools and has relationships with numerous Australian FE and HE institutions, which will add to ELS’s already extensive network of 650 university partnerships worldwide.

ELS UEC will continue to recruit through its long-term partners not through ELS. However ELS will help market the college, representing it at more than 400 student fairs each year and providing access to ELS counsellors in 85 countries.

PGIC Australia acquired by ILSC

Pacific Gateway International Colleges has sold all of its centres this year, starting with its Brisbane and Sydney schools, which were bought by with the Vancouver-based ILSC Group in November 2010.

“The Pacific Gateway Australian schools were seen as an ideal choice given their reputation in the market, and their strong commitment to quality…” said Paul Zysman, ILSC’s President and founder at the time. “ILSC’s student‐centered delivery and wide diversity of courseware will enhance the already well received programs at Pacific Gateway Australia. Once the transaction is complete, the Australian Pacific Gateway schools will begin to offer ILSC programs, expanding to embrace the ILSC educational model.”

The acquisition takes ILSC’s ELT portfolio to seven schools across Canada, the US, India and Australia.

The acquisition takes ILSC’s ELT portfolio to seven schools across Canada, the US, India and Australia. The Group also runs the Greystone College of Business and Technology in Vancouver, Toronto and New Delhi.

Study Group Acquires Pacific Gateway Toronto and Victoria


In March 2011, Study Group made its debut in the Canadian market by acquiring PGIC’s EFL centres in Toronto and Victoria. The two schools are now operated by Study Group’s international English language training brand, Embassy CES, which now has a portfolio of 21 ELT schools.

Sean Hale, Managing Director of Embassy CES, said the move significantly enhanced the company’s position as “a leading international education provider in the fast growing North American market.”

Hale promised he would equip the colleges with the state-of-art language teaching technology common to Embassy operations globally, as well as introducing Embassy programmes to the course suites. Pacific Gateway founding CEO and Director, Mr. Sammy Takahashi, a widely recognised and highly respected leader in the Canadian EFL community, will continue in a leadership role under the new ownership.

PGIC Vancouver bought by Loyalist Group

Completing the the Pacific sell-off, ESL specialists the Loyalist Group Ltd bought Pacific Group International College (PGIC) Vancouver in August this year. The purchase for CAN$200,000 (US$203,000) includes PGIC Career College and PGIC Holdings, and Loyalist will pay an incentive bonus of CAN$50,000 (US$51,000) plus 4,531,250 Loyalist Group shares if the companies maintain a positive cash flow for the first three months of operation.

The Loyalist Group portfolio features four other brands, including Universal College of Language, Vancouver, McKinsey International College, Toronto, Western Town College (Vancouver and Toronto) and Robson College, Vancouver.

“We expect the WTC schools, our fourth and fifth acquisition to date, to integrate into Loyalist’s model seamlessly and at the same time elevate the Loyalist brand for ESL education internationally,” said Andrew Ryu, Loyalist Group CEO in September.

TUI Education Acquires English Language Centre York

In July 2011, student travel business TUI Education, a division of TUI Travel PLC, bought English Language Centre (ELC) York. The move complements TUI’s growing portfolio of language schools which includes the EAC chain, the Hampstead School of English and the Manchester Academy of English.

Founded in 1997, ELC York specialises in general English, IELTS for university entry purposes and the Cambridge University CELTA teacher training course.It welcomed 1,000 students from 44 countries last year and is located in the heart of historic York, which is the third most popular tourist destination in the UK receiving 3.8m visitors each year.

Ian Finlay, Managing Director of TUI Education, said, “This acquisition is an important step in our strategy to grow our language businesses through acquisitions and organic development.We look forward to capitalising on the school’s links in the Middle East and cross-selling into our existing school and agent portfolio.”

PGIC Victoria, acquired by Study Group this year

PGIC Victoria, acquired by Study Group this year

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