The acquisition of Cognita by Jacobs Holdings for £2bn, including debt, reflects the continued interest in private education for investors, particularly private equity. It is no surprise that there was significant interest in the deal from other PE houses and competitors, with the market proving particularly attractive.
Whilst some have questioned the sustainability of the model, especially in over-saturated markets, it seems that there is still confidence that the growing middle-classes around the globe will increase demand for high quality private education.
For the UK it only adds to the pressure to ensure that post-Brexit the market can attract students from around the globe, not just in secondary but also those moving on to university education. Just this week it was revealed the UK had been overtaken by Australia as the second most popular destination for overseas students. With the market adding £20bn to the UK's economy, it's income the UK can ill afford to lose and key to the continued confidence in the private school sector.
Jacobs Holding, the Zurich-based investment firm set up by Swiss billionaire Klaus Jacobs, has agreed to acquire Cognita from Bregal Investments and US buyout fund KKR in a deal that values the UK-based group of private schools at £2bn, including debt. The deal price represents 26 times earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation as of August 2018, according to a person with direct knowledge of the deal.