Staffordshire training firm Nord Anglia Education (NAE) has agreed to a £190 million takeover after a major private equity firm upped its offer.
The Burton-upon-Trent-based firm, which last month snubbed Baring Private Equity Asia’s initial near £180 million approach, said the offer represented an “excellent opportunity” for Nord Anglia shareholders.
Baring has its eye on Nord Anglia’s healthy growth prospects for its international schools in emerging markets such as China.
The company offers a British-style education based on the English National Curriculum in schools across Central Europe and the Far East.
Nord Anglia chairman Alan Kelsey said: “The offer represents an excellent opportunity for Nord Anglia shareholders to realise their investment for cash today at a significant premium to the recent share price.
“We have made substantial progress in the creation and development of a focused education services business and this has now been reflected in a very successful outcome for Nord Anglia shareholders.”
As Asia’s biggest private equity firm, present in the region since 1998, Baring is well-placed to use its connections to grow the business.
“I believe that Nord Anglia will benefit from Baring’s impressive array of education expertise, financial resources and regional connections in the Far East and will therefore be an excellent home for the business and be able to support the company’s future development,” said Mr Kelsey.
The recommended offer of 460 pence a share represents a premium of more than 60 per cent to the company’s closing share price on the day before Nord Anglia first announced a possible deal.
Baring said in a statement it believed the acquisition would enable Nord Anglia to access additional sources of capital which will enable the accelerated roll-out of its international schools.
It added it would look for opportunities to further develop Nord Anglia’s Learning Services Division, which works with government departments such as OFSTED and the Quality Improvement Agency to deliver a range of education, training and learning support contracts in the UK and overseas.
Nord Anglia, whose international fee-paying day schools have over 3,000 pupils, has been operating international schools since 1992.
It has schools in Budapest, Prague and Warsaw, as well as three in Shanghai and last year opened international pre-schools in Seoul, South Korea and Ningbo, China.
In April the group reported a hike in first-half pretax profit of 66 per cent owing to higher occupancy fill-up rate and new contract wins.
It posted a pre-tax profit of £4.6 million for the six months to February 29, up from £2.8 million a year earlier.
In a statement released in April, the company said: “Beyond 2009 we are working on a significant pipeline of additional new school opportunities throughout Asia and the Middle East and are confident that the company’s targets for capacity growth will be met.”
It said it had signed memorandums of understanding to develop schools in Tianjen, China and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
The group also said in April that its Learning Services Division had a strong pipeline of significant new contract opportunities from the QIA, OFSTED and ADEC and that it was working on a wide range of new business opportunities with the UK Government and from a number of countries within the Middle East.
Nord Anglia employs around 750 teachers and 2,000 staff overall.
The company was founded by Kevin McNeany in 1972, who started the business as a language school in the UK after 13 years working as an English teacher in state schools.
It was listed in 1997 and Kevin McNeany stepped down from the company in 2005.