Palamon Capital Partners said Aug. 9 that it has agreed to buy Business School24 SpA from Il Sole 24 Ore SpA. Palamon is buying 49 percent of Business School24 at an 80 million euro ($93.9 million) valuation with a call option to buy another 2 percent in May 2018. The deal also calls for Palamon to acquire additional equity while Il Sole will retain 20 percent. Business School24, with headquarters in Milan and Rome, provides professionally-oriented postgraduate education and training.
Palamon Capital Partners (“Palamon” or the “Firm”), a pan-European growth investor, announces that it has signed an agreement to acquire Business School24 SpA (“Business School24” or the “Company”) the education and services unit of Il Sole 24 Ore S.p.A (“Il Sole”), Italy’s leading business newspaper.
Palamon will acquire 49% of the Company at an enterprise valuation of €80 million with a call option to acquire an additional 2% in May 2018. The sale agreement has arrangements in place for Palamon to acquire additional equity with Il Sole agreeing to retain a minimum 20% strategic stake in the Company going forward.
Business School24 is a leading player in the tertiary education segment and provides professionally-oriented postgraduate education and training. Established in 1991 as a business unit of Il Sole 24 Ore, the school has two headquarters in Milan and Rome and enrols more than 26,000 students a year onto its courses based both in classrooms and online. The Company differentiates itself by creating targeted courses focused on the real needs of business and employs highly experienced industry professionals to originate content and deliver lessons. Most courses incorporate an internship, which presents a highly successful pathway to employment.
Palamon’s investment stems from its ongoing thematic work in the education sector to identify businesses that address significant structural issues of supply and demand. Palamon previously invested in Cambridge Education Group, a pathway provider for foreign students to access western universities, which the Firm exited in 2013 for 14.5x return. Palamon believes that Business School24 is ideally positioned to address the significant need for specialised vocational training among the Italian youth where unemployment currently stands at more than 30%, with university educated people affected the most.
Commenting on the investment, Fabio Massimo Giuseppetti, partner of Palamon Capital Partners, said: “Business School24 is one of the most widely respected education brands in Italy and it is playing a key role in overcoming the structural disconnection between tertiary education and employment, which is severely undermining graduate prospects and damaging the economy. We are therefore delighted to be partnering with the Company to help accelerate growth in the provision of specialised vocational training and a pathway to the labour market for its students. We look forward to working with the talented management team and building out the platform over the years to come.”
Franco Moscetti, CEO of Il Sole 24 ORE added: “We are thrilled to be partnering with Palamon to accelerate the expansion of our education services across offline and online channels. Palamon’s track record in the education sector and understanding of the industry dynamics convinced us of their ability to successfully capture the tremendous market opportunity in Italy.”
Business School24 is the sixth investment from Palamon’s latest fund, which closed above target on €402 million of commitments earlier this year. Other investments include Italian leather accessories brand, Il Bisonte; International payments provider Currencies Direct and global sock brand, Happy Socks. Palamon uses a proactive thematic sourcing approach to find growth investments across the European lower mid-market and has to date invested more than €2.2 billion in 39 companies across 10 countries.