Hispania Capital Backs Language Stars

Language Stars LLC, a provider of language instruction to the pre-school and elementary school market, has raised an undisclosed amount of private equity funding from Hispania Capital Partners.


Hispania Capital Partners (“HCP”), a middle-market private equity firm headquartered in Chicago, today announced that it has acquired an interest in Language Stars, LLC. Language Stars is the leading provider of language instruction to the pre-school and elementary school market.

Founded in 1998 by Chief Executive Officer Leslie Lancry, Language Stars delivers proven results through its experiential, full immersion (“FunImmersion®) programs in Spanish, French, Mandarin Chinese, German and Italian. The company currently operates seven foreign language centers, eight satellite locations, and approximately 100 at-school programs in the Chicago area, educating over 5,000 students each week. The curriculum is delivered by highly qualified, native-speaking teachers representing more than twenty countries. The results of the Language Stars program are evident in the accent-free, spontaneous exchanges between teachers and students. Research has shown that learning more than one language at a young age leads to improved cognitive performance in elementary school and on standardized tests, such as the SAT.

The acquisition of Language Stars marks the first investment in HCP’s newest fund and its first investment in the educational services sector. “We are very excited to partner with Language Stars’ management team, including Lancry, COO Ken Frystak, and Chief Education Officer Karen Gould, to replicate the company’s success in the Chicago market,” said Victor Maruri, Managing Partner of Hispania Capital Partners. “We believe that Language Stars represents a strong, scalable platform in an important area of early-childhood education.”

Hispania’s investment was used to buyout non-management shareholders, provide growth capital for the company’s 2010 market launch into the Washington DC metropolitan area and fund future growth into new markets. Baltimore-based Parchman, Vaughan & Company served as Language Stars’ financial advisor.

“Language Stars represents an attractive opportunity to partner with a talented and visionary team of entrepreneurs who are passionate about their mission in revolutionizing how and when Americans learn a foreign language” commented Jim Bland, Vice President of HCP. “Language Stars’ immersive curriculum capitalizes on a child’s innate cognitive ability to easily acquire a foreign language.”

Lancry, who invested alongside HCP in the transaction, noted “We are delighted to partner with the HCP team. Their growth equity expertise coupled with their understanding of our business potential optimally positions Language Stars for healthy growth on a national scale. In an increasingly global environment, foreign language proficiency is a competitive advantage in both cultural and economic terms and our partnership with HCP will fuel our ability to meet increasing demand across the nation.”

Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

About Hispania Capital Partners

Hispania Capital Partners (www.hispaniapartners.com ) is a Chicago-based private equity firm specializing in growth equity and buyout investments in companies with attractive growth prospects and revenue ranging from $10 million to $100 million. HCP seeks to generate sustainable, long-term value for its shareholders through sector-specific (business services, consumer products, education, and healthcare services) and/or demographic (U.S. Hispanic market) investment strategies. The firm has approximately $215 million in assets.

About Language Stars, LLC

Language Stars (www.languagestars.com) is the leading provider of early childhood foreign language education. Its unique FunImmersion® method offers an effective and enjoyable way for children ages 1-10 to absorb a new language similarly to how they learn their native tongue. The company is expanding to the Washington D.C. metropolitan area where it will offer classes in centers and schools starting in September, 2010.