BPP Education Group has acquired Estio Training, an online provider of NVQ level 3 and level 4 IT and digital apprenticeships, in a deal providing Palatine Private Equity with the first exit for its Impact Fund.

Leeds-based Estio Training aims to match candidates with funded industry training places, leading to new or enhanced career prospects in IT and digital technology.

On its website Palatine Private Equity stated: “The exit has generated an excellent return for us, providing a clear demonstration that strong financial returns and social impact can be aligned. Since the original investment in September 2018, Estio has grown its revenues threefold and expanded the number of learners on programme by over 40% whilst still maintaining a strong focus on quality and inclusivity.

“Our Impact Fund team has worked closely with Estio’s co-founder and CEO Lee Meadows to scale the business, whilst also promoting a shared agenda of improving social inclusion, diversity and accessibility to education.

“Estio has achieved positive outcomes in a number of areas since our investment, including first-time pass rates increasing to 95%, the number of female enrolments increasing by 33% and the proportion of learners residing in areas of deprivation increasing to 35%.

“During our three-year involvement, significant investment has been made in the company’s digital infrastructure which, more recently, enabled it to successfully navigate the operational challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic which included an immediate switch to a purely online delivery model. Our investment also supported Estio with the acquisition of a business operation in Birmingham in late-2018.

James Gregson, senior investment director in Palatine Private Equity’s Impact team said: “Estio has been an excellent investment for the Palatine Impact Fund and we are delighted to deliver such a strong result with our first exit. The objective of the Impact Fund is to deliver returns with purpose and Estio is the perfect example of this. With our support, the team have made significant progress in terms of quality and learner outcomes to make a positive difference which has now been combined with a strong financial return and exit to a like-minded, high quality training provider in BPP. BPP represents the ideal strategic partner to take Estio onto the next phase of its development and the combination of the businesses represents a fantastic opportunity to continue to drive growth in the UK apprenticeship market. We have thoroughly enjoyed working with Lee and the rest of the team over the last three years and wish them every success as they move onto the next chapter of growth alongside BPP.”

Palatine Private Equity was advised by Clearwater International and Addleshaw Goddard.

Date published: 2 November 2021

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