Investment

The family offices behind the world’s biggest higher education group

Higher education is big business. So much so that some of the world’s biggest investors and their investment offices are behind a number of sizable companies in the sector. Not least, the Baltimore-based Laureate Education, which is backed by a roll call of some of the biggest names in the private investment world.

Founded 21 years ago, Laureate Education is now the biggest for-profit higher education network in the world. It comprises 60 campus-based and online universities, providing undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than one million students worldwide.

Last year, Laureate Education had revenues of $3.3 billion, with adjusted EBITDA of an impressive $623 million. Those numbers and the explosion of higher education in Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia is fueling investor enthusiasm.

Laureate’s biggest shareholder is a holding company called Wengen Alberta, which in turn is owned by a number of investors. These including Cohen Venture Partners, the family office of Steve and Andrew Cohen, and Bregal Investments, which is linked to the Brenninkmeijer family. Kendall Family Investments, the family office of hedge fund manager, Louis Bacon, is a limited partner in Wengen.   

Vulcan Capital, the investment office of the late Paul Allen, has also owned stock in Laureate. George Soros, according to sources, is an investor, or has been in the past. And a number of private equity groups are also big backers including KKR and the biggest driver behind Laureate, Chicago-based Sterling Partners.

Sterling’s co-founder is Doug Becker, who also founded Laureate Education. Becker is understood to have played a pivotal role in bringing many of the investors behind Laureate together in the first place.

Education investing is a theme running through a number of family office portfolios. Late last year, Jacob Holding, the private investment group of the Klaus Jacob, bought Cognita, a global schools group, for $2.7 billion. Jacob bought the group from Bregal Investment, and private equity group KKR. Both of which are also behind Laureate Education.

 

 

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