Inflexion Private Equity Partners, owner of Times Higher Education, has bought a controlling stake in Sparta Global, an IT training provider, in an off-market deal.

This publication learnt that Sparta Global had been put up for sale earlier this year by its shareholders, who mandated corporate financiers from GCA Altium to oversee an auction.

However, the process was paused when the Covid-19 pandemic unfolded, forcing training centres to close for what at the time was an indefinite period.

Sparta Global employs a ‘hire, train, deploy’ strategy, whereby it recruits and trains aspiring IT consultants in-house and recoups costs by placing them under contracts with employers, skimming a portion of salaries over an agreed period of time.

A source said that Inflexion “looked through the Covid impact” on Sparta Global’s bottom line and hammered out a deal behind closed doors, side-stepping a competitive auction.

According to sources, Sparta Global makes annual profits of around £5 million.

Inflexion has previously backed FDM, a pioneer of the hire, train, deploy model, growing its profits fivefold before it listed on the London Stock Exchange in 2014.

The London-based mid-market private equity firm also owns stakes in online IT recruitment and training services provider Calco, and global resourcing specialist K2 Partnering Solutions, “both of which are operating in similar markets”, Inflexion said in a statement.

The investment, the terms of which were undisclosed, in Sparta Global is being made through Inflexion’s Enterprise Fund V, its lower-mid-market vehicle.

Inflexion was advised by Clearwater International.

Simon Turner, managing partner at Inflexion, said: “In Sparta we see in a tremendously ambitious team which has achieved a great deal of success in its industry, one we are very familiar with. We can use our strong experience in their sector to help Sparta achieve not only its growth ambitions but also look for new ways to expand.”

David Rai, chief executive of Sparta Global, said: “We were drawn to Inflexion’s incredibly relevant experience and proven success in the sector and hope to leverage this to expand our business with existing and new clients.”

Date published: 14 October 2020

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