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WCL Group sold to Nord Anglia Education

In a major transaction in the international schools sector, World Class Learning (WCL) Group has been sold to another major player, Nord Anglia Education, in a deal which sees Sovereign Capital “realise the investment” it made in WCL Group – which operates 11 schools globally – in 2008. The acquisition gives Nord Anglia Education a foothold in North America and creates a 25-strong international school operation.

An extract from the WCL Group website

Both organisations will benefit from "the remarkable international reach of the combined entity"

According to Asia Venture Capital Journal (AVCJ), the deal has an enterprise value of US$222 million. AVCJ explains that Nord Anglia Education is also backed by private equity: it was bought by Baring Asia Private Equity Fund IV in 2008, when the majority of its business was in Asia.

Nord Anglia Education operates 14 schools in Asia, Europe and the Middle East and recently announced it is also opening in Hong Kong in September 2014. The company said that the new “complementary partnership” would enable it to enter the North American market whilst strengthening its presence in the Middle East and Europe.

Its International Primary Curriculum is now used in nearly 1,500 schools in 80 countries

Jim Alexandre, Chairman of WCL, commented, “We are very excited about joining Nord Anglia Education to create the leading premium education group serving the rapidly expanding international education market. The two organisations are joined by a passion for the learning experience of our students, and they will be important beneficiaries from the remarkable international reach of the combined entity.”

The WCL Group educates around 4,500 students, up 165% from the average of 1,700 students taught in 2008 when Sovereign Capital acquired it. The brand started life in 1998 in Washington DC and has expanded to operate schools in the USA, Qatar and Spain. (It acquired a footprint in Spain via its acquisition of International College Spain in 2011.)

At Sovereign Capital, which bills itself as a “buy-and-build specialist” in the sector, Kevin Whittle, Partner, said, “We are proud of the significant growth that the Group achieved during our period of ownership. As the British international schools market expands and expatriate communities throughout the world continue to grow, we look forward to seeing the Group flourish further.”

“As the British international schools market expands and expatriate communities continue to grow, we look forward to seeing the group flourish”

Sovereign underlined that under its ownership, a UK£20 million investment programme into WCL facilities and infrastructure was carried out.

The company is also an established curriculum provider; its International Primary Curriculum (IPC), is now used in nearly 1,500 schools in 80 countries.

Alexandre added, “Sovereign’s growth strategy included significant capital investment capital which enabled the Group to acquire and improve premises, enhance in-house expertise and expand our range of products and services. We are delighted to now become part of the renowned Nord Anglia Education family and benefit from their experience as we look to continue our growth.”

The combined premium schools organisation will operate 25 schools in 11 countries and be responsible for the education of over 14,500 students.

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