The sale of Global Knowledge, a private equity-owned European provider of technology and corporate skills training, has been abandoned after an auction process failed to drum up interest, EducationInvestor Global can exclusively reveal. 

This publication has learnt that Cavendish Corporate Finance, the sell-side M&A advisory firm mandated to oversee the sale of Global Knowledge on behalf of its owner, Rhône Capital, has pulled the business from the market after two rounds of bidding failed to solicit serious offers.

Sources said that Cavendish Corporate Finance approached a raft of suitors late last year and once again in January – but both times failed to secure a buyer for the business.

“There just wasn’t enough appetite,” one source said.

It is understood that the decision to ditch the sale of Global Knowledge was made prior to the outbreak of covid-19, which has in recent weeks brought industries to their knees as governments worldwide continue to impose stringent self-isolation measures in an attempt to curb the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

It is uncelar whether Rhône Capital and Cavendish Corporate Finance will look to relaunch the auction.

A prospectus, which put Global Knowledge’s EBITDA at around €13 million, was initially circulated to prospective bidders in the fourth quarter of last year.

The business was set to be broken up, with New York-based Rhône Capital retaining ownership of the US division, while the European arm was to be carved out and offloaded.

Catering to more than 200,000 IT and business professionals each year, Global Knowledge is one of Europe’s largest corporate training providers.

Global Knowledge delivers more than one million individual courses a year, 80% of which are hosted online, in areas such as coding, blockchain technology, application development and cyber-security.

It is acknowledged as a competitor of the UK’s QA, the IT-training provider owned by CVC Capital Partners, Europe’s largest private equity firm,  

Global Knowledge has longstanding partnerships with technology giants Microsoft, Cisco and VMware.

Last November, Global Knowledge acquired Holland-headquartered HODAC Training.

The firm encompasses Lerio, which specialises in Microsoft applications, and GK Noord, a long-time reseller of Global Knowledge courses in the northern Netherlands.

It is not uncommon for organisations to acquire third-party sellers of their products in order to quickly gain market share in locations where they historically did not have the capacity to set up shop themselves.

In 2017, Global Knowledge acquired Ottawa-based ctc TrainCanada, and in doing so gained presence in 10 Canadian cities through a network of training centres.

Rhône Capital acquired Global Knowledge in 2014, when its former owner MidOcean Partners, another New York-based buyout fund, exited the holding.

Rhône Capital, which has offices in London and New York, has a diverse portfolio spanning investments and exits in industries including business services, chemicals, consumer products, food and transportation.

Previous investments include confectionary manufacturer Nestlé, cosmetics company Elizabeth Arden and aviation firm VistaJet.

Rhône Capital is part-owned Eurazeo, a €17 billion France-headquartered private equity group.

Eurazeo acquired a 30% stake in Rhône Capital in 2018 for $270 million, funded by $100 million in cash and two million Eurazeo shares.  

Under the agreement, Eurazeo has three representatives on Rhône Capital’s board and Rhône Capital has representation through a “non-voting observer” on Eurazeo’s supervisory board, according to a press release.

Cavendish Corporate Finance did not respond to a request for comment.

Rhône Capital had not responded to a request for comment at the time of publication. 

Date published: 17 March 2020

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