LDC, the leading mid-market private equity arm of Lloyds Banking Group, has acquired the UK’s leading online learning provider learndirect in a transaction valued in the order of £40million. The deal gives learndirect the flexibility to compete more effectively in the wider marketplace by accessing a far greater pool of potential learners and businesses and expanding across a much broader range of services.
LDC has bought learndirect by acquiring its parent Ufi Limited from the Ufi Charitable Trust (UCT). UCT, a registered charity, was set up in 1998 to use new technology to transform the delivery of learning and skills.
Through the learndirect brand, which was launched in 2000, Ufi Ltd has helped more than three million people use the internet to gain skills and qualifications in areas such as maths, English and IT. Ufi Ltd has also worked with thousands of businesses in the last decade.
The deal provides investment and backing to support the development of the learndirect business by the management team led by new chair of Ufi Limited Ian Crabb. He has extensive experience in both technology businesses and private equity as a former European CEO of IKON Office Solutions, a leading provider of document management systems and services, ex CEO of Quadriga Worldwide, a supplier of products and content including digital IP systems to the hospitality industry, and was previously a member of Permira's Industrial Advisory Board.
LDC and management have a clear strategy to unlock the significant potential that learndirect has to build on its already strong market position. LDC will bring its extensive business value enhancement skills, developed across its portfolio of over 60 companies, to help enhance efficiencies and supplier networks. In terms of growth the focus will be on accessing a far greater pool of potential learners and businesses, providing a much broader range of services.
This is LDC’s 11th deal so far this year, which brings the total amount invested in 2011 by LDC in UK growth businesses to £245 million.
Daniel Sasaki, Managing Director, LDC London said:
“This is an excellent deal for LDC and learndirect as it combines our extensive experience of working with consumer-facing and online businesses together with a great management team at learndirect, which already has a very strong brand in the marketplace. These are very strong foundations on which to further enhance learndirect’s offer and suite of services for the benefit of adult learners throughout the UK.”
Joanne Milner, Investment Director at LDC said:“We are delighted to invest in learndirect, which has already established itself as the UK’s leading online learning provider. Given the strength of its brand and the greater flexibility it will now have to expand its services, we believe learndirect has tremendous potential in the wider marketplace. LDC and the strong, existing management have a clear strategy for growth involving accessing a far greater pool of potential learners and businesses and providing a much broader range of services. Improving the skills base of the UK workforce is one of the critical factors in helping to quicken the pace of economic recovery and we are determined that learndirect will play a leading role in helping to deliver this.”
Sarah Jones, Chief Executive of learndirect, said “The sale of Ufi Ltd and its learndirect brand is the beginning of a new era for training provision in the UK. We are a commercial company operating in a competitive industry. As a leader in online learning, we have developed valuable expertise and experience, which gives us a strong platform for growth and a fantastic consumer brand. The change in ownership will allow us to reach more businesses and learners with a wider range of products and services, while continuing to deliver excellent training and raise standards across the sector.”
For further information please contact:
Richard Evans/James Rossiter
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