School’s out as Cognita plans £2bn sale
AN INTERNATIONAL private schools operator is being lined up for a £2bn sale or stock market float by its Wall Street backers.
Talks with potential buyers are expected to start soon, City sources said. Private equity giant KKR has appointed investment banks Goldman Sachs and Barclays to sound out bidders for Cognita, which is based in Milton Keynes. Founded in 2004 with a single school – Quinton House, in Northampton – the company comprises 68 private schools in eight countries, including Britain, Spain, South America and south-east Asia, with more than 35,000 students worldwide.
Its UK schools also include Huddersfield Grammar and Southbank International in South Kensington.
A consortium led by Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board and Baring Private Equity Asia is among suitors. The pair own a rival business called Nord Anglia Education. GEMS Education, backed by Blackstone, is also understood to be interested.
However, if interest is thin on the ground then it could pursue a public listing.
KKR, co-led by billionaires Henry Kravis and George Roberts, invested in the school group in 2013, alongside Bregal Capital.
Cognita is run by Chris Jansen, the former boss of the AA.