EQT has agreed to buy a majority stake in itslearning, a Norwegian education software group, for €47 million.
Founded in 1999 and based in Bergen, Norway, the company provides cloud-based learning systems in Europe, the US, Mexico and Turkey. It has nearly two million users worldwide, and ranks among the largest education cloud services provider in Norway, the Netherlands, the UK and France.
EQT, which is investing in itslearning alongside the company’s management, will seek to support its international expansion, Jannik Kruse Petersen, a partner at EQT, told Private Equity International. “We think that itslearning has quite a unique positioning in the market so we see ample opportunities of organic growth.” A key focus will be to increase the company’s market share in the US, he said.
The investment will be funded by EQT Expansion Capital II, the firm’s mid-market LBO vehicle, through an injection of 30 percent of equity and 70 percent of debt. It is likely to be the last investment by the fund, according to Petersen. Expansion Capital II, which closed on €474 million in 2007, is now close to 80 percent invested.
Petersen declined to comment on future fundraising, but said that EQT was planning to remain a player in the mid-market.
The firm is not new to the education business, having acquired AcadeMedia, the largest school operator in Sweden, in July 2010. Ulf Mattson, chairman of AcadeMedia, is due to become chairman of itslearning after completion of the transaction.
EQT also has a track record as an investor in IT services companies. The firm acquired UC4, an Austrian IT software vendor, for €220 million last August; it also bought Broadnet, a Norwegian provider of datacom and voice services operator in February 2012.“We’ve done quite a few investments in the software service space as well, so the link between both industries is quite strong,” said Petersen.
After its investment in itslearning, EQT Expansion Capital II will have a total of eight companies in its portfolio. The transaction, expected to close in April 2013, is still subject to regulatory approval.