Pearson, the world’s leading online learning company that creates vibrant and enriching learning experiences designed for real-life impact, recently announced that it has agreed to sell its online management services platform for universities to Los Angeles-based private equity firm Regent LP, according to an official statement.
As part of the deal, Regent will pay the British publisher 27.5% of the services’ adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, or EBITDA, each year for six years. Regents will also pay Pearson another 27.5% of proceeds if the equity firm liquidates the online services business. The startup will change hands amid the conclusion of a “strategic review” of the business, which began in August 2022, for a deferred sum.
However, the company did not mention any upfront fee in the announcement.
Pearson Online Learning Services (POLS) offers an integrated suite of services for organizations and educators at any stage of their digital transformation journey. For more than 25 years, the platform has helped its partner institutions create personalized, engaging, industry-focused learning experiences quickly and at scale—the firm claims to have worked with over 450 programmes at over 30 institutions globally. In 2021 alone, its team across eight countries, including over 100 in Australia, enabled 14,000 students to improve their lives through learning.
The latest development comes after Pearson announced an 11% rise in profit in its year-end financial report, reaching £456 million in 2022. According to the company, the acquisition of POLS by Regent was “likely to be immaterial” in its 2023 operating profits, but this will depend on when the transaction is finalized. The sale demonstrates further progress in reshaping Pearson’s portfolio towards future growth opportunities centred around lifelong learning.
The decision to sell comes as the OPM industry faces increasing scrutiny from the US Department of Education, which recently proposed barring US universities from working with ‘third-party servicers’ based or owned outside of the US — creating a potentially hostile regulatory environment for the British publisher.
Regent LP, a global private equity firm, has a portfolio that includes brands across different industries, such as Club Monaco, Sassoon and Wonderbra. The company provides corporate parents, shareholders and other stakeholders with bespoke solutions that address their business and liquidity needs.