Jacobs Holding, owner of Cognita, has sold off minority stakes in the group to BDT Capital Partners and Sofina, crystallising its plans to run an equity syndicate process reported exclusively by this publication in December.

Jacobs did not disclose the terms of the transaction, but said it “will continue to own a majority of Cognita”, which it purchased in October last year from KKR and Bregal Investments in a £2 billion deal.

The Financial Times reported that BDT acquired a 20% stake for £400 million and Sofina a 20% stake, without disclosing how much the latter paid for its new holding. 

Last month, EQT’s credit arm provided a €225 million second lien term loan to Jacobs Holding to “support” its investment in Cognita. The exact terms of the deal were not disclosed.

BDT is a boutique advisory firm headed by Byron Trott, an influential Wall Street banker who advises wealthy investors including Warren Buffet, and Sofina is a private investment vehicle owned and controlled by France’s Peugeot family.

"We look forward to working alongside BDT and Sofina to help further Cognita's international expansion, bringing the Cognita model of education to more children across the world," said Patrick De Maeseneire, chief executive of Jacobs Holding. "BDT and Sofina hold similar values to Jacobs and a long-term commitment to helping entrepreneurs build great, lasting businesses that have the potential to be global leaders in their respective sectors.

“The addition of patient investors, like BDT and Sofina, will help ensure that Cognita continues to grow and delivers outstanding education for its students."

Launched in 2004, Cognita has some 72 schools situated in eight countries which collectively cater to more than 43,000 students.

Date published: 1 February 2019

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