NEW YORK — January 21, 2016 — Berkery Noyes, an independent mid-market investment bank, today released its full year 2015 mergers and acquisitions trend report for the Education Industry.
The report analyzes M&A activity in the sector during 2015 and compares it with data covering 2013 and 2014. This market includes information and technology companies servicing the Education Industry, including the K-12, Post-Secondary, Childcare Services, and Corporate & Professional Training segments.
Transaction volume improved 26 percent on a year-to-year basis. Aggregate value rose 52 percent, from $11.68 billion to $17.75 billion. The median revenue multiple decreased from 2.4x to 2.0x, while the median EBITDA multiple declined from 11.5x to 9.6x. This was in line with the industry’s median enterprise value multiples over the past 36 months.
The largest Education transaction in 2015 was TPG Capital and Leonard Green Capital Partners’ announced acquisition of Ellucian, which provides higher education software, services and analytics, for $3.5 billion. The industry’s most active strategic acquirer in 2015, either directly or through an affiliated business, was Bertelsmann with four transactions. Bertelsmann acquired Redilearning, an online learning company that serves the senior care sector; Academy Medical, a provider of continuing education content for various healthcare providers; YoBoHo, a digital media company that specializes in creating original content for children; and Alliant International University, a network of five California-based professional schools.
The Higher-Ed Media and Tech segment experienced a 68 percent increase in volume, making it the sector with the largest yearly gain. Notable acquirers in the segment included Cengage Learning with the acquisition of Pathbrite, a web-based portfolio tool that allows students to store their completed coursework; The Gordian Group with the acquisition of Sightlines, a provider of facilities benchmarking data and expertise; Leeds Equity Partners with the acquisition of Campus Labs; a software platform for colleges and universities to make data driven decisions ranging from accreditation to student retention to effective operations; and Cengage Learning with the acquisition of Learning Objects, an education technology company with solutions that support customized and adaptive online learning programs and courses.
Deal volume in the Professional Training Services segment increased 15 percent, making it the industry’s most active market sector during the year. The largest deal in the combined Professional Training segments in 2015 was LinkedIn Corporation’s acquisition of Lynda.com, an online learning company that provides video tutorials and courses covering business, software, creative, and other areas, for $1.5 billion.
The number of transactions in the K-12 Media and Tech segment increased 17 percent over the past year. High profile segment deals included Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s acquisition of Scholastic Corporation’s Education and Technology Services business for $575 million; Vista Equity Partners’ acquisition of PowerSchool, a web-based student information system, for $350 million; and Blackbaud’s acquisition of SmartTuition, a provider of payment software and services for private schools and parents, for $190 million.
“Private equity firms are increasingly being drawn to the education and training sector, given the sheer scale of the market, the favorable lending environment, and the increasing number of companies that are growing with subscription based revenue models in the space,” said Peter Yoon, Managing Director at Berkery Noyes. “The largest area of activity in 2015 was in the corporate and professional education space as the need for continuing education and workforce development continues to expand while technology has improved the delivery and efficacy of instruction.”
Yoon continued, “Operational solutions in the higher education market that help institutions reduce infrastructure by combining various functions and also outsourcing solutions are in demand by acquirers as well. Moreover, M&A is also being driven by consolidation in certain niches within K-12 including data and assessment, content management systems, and human capital and talent management, among others.”
“The increased deal value derived importantly from the significant participation of strategic acquirers in 2015 deal activity,” said Mary Jo Zandy, Managing Director at Berkery Noyes. “A combination of content with technology yielded the highest transaction value premiums. Despite the recent turbulence in the capital markets, we expect the growing usage of technology in education and training to secure high transaction values in 2016.”
A copy of the EDUCATION INDUSTRY M&A REPORT FOR FULL YEAR 2015 is available at the Berkery Noyes website.