Trimaran in special needs school roll-up

The New York-based mid-market investor is backing the expansion of a Tennessee-based school operator catering to children with learning disabilities.

Trimaran Capital Partners, a New York-based US mid-market private equity firm, has announced details of a $21 million (€17 million) investment in Educational Services of America (ESA), a provider of day school services to children with special education requirements.

ESA, which is based in Nashville, Tennessee, is using the funding to acquire Spectrum Center, a similar business operating out of San Francisco. Between them, the two groups run 27 schools in five states. Combined revenue will be $35 million.

Trimaran is making the investment in the form of convertible preferred equity. The firm has an option to invest an additional $14 million, which would give it an 84 percent equity interest in ESA.

Jay Bloom, managing partner at Trimaran, said in a statement that special education was a growing sector. “Nationally, already six million K-12 school age children have Individualised Education Plans (IEPs), written plans describing the special education services that a particular student requires. Many of the children cannot be served by mainstreaming into regular classrooms.”

Trimaran has been investing since 1995 and has put to work in excess of $1.2 billion in more than 50 portfolio companies. The firm currently invests Trimaran Fund II, a $1 billion partnership closed in 2000.