Investment in a leading European private higher education group

International private equity firm, Cinven, today announces that it has agreed the acquisition of INSEEC U. (‘the Group’), a leading European institution of private higher education and research. The consideration is not disclosed.

Founded in 1975 in Bordeaux, France, today INSEEC U. operates 16 schools worldwide with campuses across France, the UK, the US, China, Switzerland and Monaco, as well as online education programmes. INSEEC U. offers degrees and accreditation programmes principally in Management & Business, Engineering, Communications & Marketing and Political Science, providing courses for approx. 25,000 students annually. Over the past few years, INSEEC U. has become the first cross-disciplinary education platform in France, combining cutting-edge research, agile teaching, innovative teaching methods and CSR values, in order to provide strong and enduring employability to its students.

Having focused on the education subsector for some time, based on its attractive market dynamics, Cinven’s Business Services Sector team worked closely with its French Regional team to identify INSEEC U. as a compelling investment opportunity, given:

  • The European higher education market represents a growing and non-cyclical market, driven by the increasing numbers of students enrolling in higher education;
  • The private sector is gaining share within higher education, due to attractive employability prospects for graduates; and it has material scope for consolidation;
  • The Group has proven its ability to deliver strong organic growth across the economic cycle supported by the quality of its courses in attractive disciplines, strong student employment outcomes, its strong brand positioning and product innovation;
  • INSEEC U. has successfully developed its online education programmes, which have benefitted from investment in technology supported by the Group’s scale advantage, with further scope for significant growth;
  • INSEEC U. is well positioned to continue its consolidation of the highly fragmented private higher education market, both in France where it is already the market leader and internationally; and
  • INSEEC U. is led by a strong management team with a proven track record of developing the Group successfully over the long-term.

Bpifrance, the French government agency, has been a minority investor in INSEEC U. since 2016 and is fully committed to continue supporting the development of the business and the private higher education sector in the years ahead.

Rory Neeson, Partner at Cinven, said:

“Our Business Services Sector team has been focused on investment prospects in education for some time given the attractive trends we see in this sector. INSEEC U. represents an excellent opportunity given its strong student outcomes, market-leading position, and the scale and professionalism of its operations. In particular, INSEEC U. ranks as a leader across its key disciplines and is highly regarded by students and recruiters for both the quality of its teaching and its students’ post-graduation employability. We look forward to working with the highly talented management team, led by Catherine Lespine, to further grow the business in France and internationally, both organically and through acquisition.”

Pierre Estrade, Partner at Cinven, added:

“INSEEC U. operates in a highly attractive, scalable and resilient market, with strong underlying macro trends expected to continue driving growth, particularly across Europe. The Cinven team is highly experienced at growing businesses internationally as well as executing successful buy and build strategies and we look forward to working with the team at INSEEC U., led by Catherine Lespine, to achieve this.”

Nicolas Paulmier, Partner at Cinven added:

“In this fast changing world, higher and continuous education is a key enabler for societies to evolve. Through its size and agility, Inseec U is set to become a major European player in higher education.”

Catherine Lespine, Chief Executive Officer of INSEEC U., commented:

“We are delighted to be partnering with Cinven, whose strategy for our business is fully aligned with the vision the INSEEC U. senior management team has for the Group. We look forward to working together: continuing INSEEC U’s successful growth trajectory and benefitting from Cinven’s international footprint and significant experience of supporting growth both organically and through consolidation.”

The transaction is subject to customary regulatory and antitrust approvals.