Sovereign buys more education assets

The UK private equity firm has made the second investment from its Sovereign Fund III with the £25m purchase of Davies Laing & Dick.

UK private equity investor Sovereign Capital has completed the £25m acquisition of UK private education business Davies Laing & Dick (DLD). Davies Laing & Dick is a private school operator based in London.

The deal is the second such transaction to be completed from the firm’s latest fund, the Sovereign Capital LP III, which closed at over £120m in early May 2002. Sovereign led a £20m MBO of Community Homes of Intensive Care and Education (CHOICE), a UK healthcare services company in April.

David Laing & Dick comprises eleven schools and colleges across the UK, including Wetherby, Portland Place and Abbey Colleges. The company is looking to expand its presence across the UK, particularly in the Central London area, where it hopes to take advantage of high competition for places at the city’s leading schools.

According to Sovereign director Andrew Hayden, DLD will look to grow both by increasing pupil numbers at its current portfolio of schools, whilst seeking to acquire schools in the London area and possibly beyond. “Every year we are seeing an increase in the number of parents opting to send their children to fee-paying schools', he said.

The £25m package was co-ordinated by Robert Hay at Bank of Scotland’s property finance division, which provided debt for the acquisition. Hayden added that any further acquisitions were likely to be funded through similar agreements with Bank of Scotland’s property finance division.

Sovereign has also announced that Simon Hitchcock has been appointed assistant director. He joins Sovereign Capital from Dilmun Investments, the London based European private equity operation of Bahrain International Bank where he spent three years investing in mid-market transactions in the UK and France.