Back to Investments Overview

Cambridge Education Group

Cambridge Education Group

Invested
February 2007

Exited
December 2013

Return
14.6x / 58% IRR

Sector
Business services

Headquarters
Cambridge, UK

Region
UK, Netherlands, USA

Business
Provider of pre-university education

< back to portfolio overview

Business at time of investment

Cambridge Education Group was a small, well-run family business, providing pre-university education and English language tuition primarily to foreign students. The company taught approximately 460 students per year across its two campuses in Cambridge and Canterbury.

Investment rationale

The demand for UK university education was expected to increase, particularly from foreign students, many of whom could not qualify for direct entry into UK universities without supplementary education. At the same time UK universities were facing funding issues and were seeking to attract more full-fee paying students from outside the EU. CEG, with its considerable experience in sourcing and teaching foreign students and preparing them for entry into UK universities, was ideally positioned to take advantage of these trends. Using CEG as a platform, Palamon set out to create a professionally run, well capitalised and sizable player through organic growth and acquisitions.

Value creation

  • Built a quality management team: recruited a senior management team before the start of the investment and developed a strategic plan to build the business.
  • Focused the Company on the key value driver of sales and marketing: built a sales and marketing platform of more than 100 full time equivalent staff based in the UK and emerging markets
  • Created a new business division: Established the University Foundation Programme business division to provide courses on-site at leading UK universities.  Established UFPs with 18 universities in the UK, Netherlands and US
  • Supported teaching capacity and geographic expansion: expanded the teaching capacity at existing campuses and opened a large new campus in London.  Developed an M&A capability to expand into the US through two acquisitions in Boston
  • Developed a recognisable brand: created a leading western education brand, with a high quality offering, a choice of countries and universities, excellent University progression rates and a student community from over 90 nations.

Company at exit

CEG operated campuses in Cambridge, Canterbury, London and Boston and UFPs at more than 18 universities in the UK and Netherlands.

Under Palamon's ownership student numbers grew from 460 to more than 3,000, driving a five-fold increase in revenues to more than £90 million.

CEG was sold in December 2013 for £185 million resulting in overall investment returns of 14.6x invested capital and an IRR of 58%


Cambridge Education Group


“It is clear that Palamon were different and that they could see the opportunity. It’s no exaggeration to say that they transformed the business.”
Nick Golding, Founder of Cambridge Education Group