Private equity firm Bridgepoint is acquiring a minority stake in French professional training business Cegos.

The company, which is owned by its management and employees, came to market at the beginning of the year, as revealed by this publication in an exclusive report.

Bridgepoint, which is investing via its lower mid-cap strategy Bridgepoint Development Capital (BDC), will acquire a minority holding, while Cegos current shareholders (around 100 associate managers, a large majority of employees and Cegos Association) will retain a majority stake.

Founded in 1926, Cegos has operations in 11 countries worldwide and provides vocational training and skills development to more than 250,000 people.

Despite a decrease in turnover and EBITDA in 2020 due to the spread of the pandemic, the company started to grow again in 2021 by boosting its distance learning programmes and enlarging its digital offering, and expects to reach EBITDA of around €20 million from annual revenue of approximately €200 million in 2022.

Cegos has been in private equity hands before. In December 2009, Ardian, at the time known as Axa Private Equity, invested in the company via its Axa Private Equity Expansion Fund II, buying a 15% stake.

The deal was part of a leveraged buyout led by the management, which included 120 associate managers, alongside a large number of employees and Cegos Association, the group’s historical shareholder.

This operation was not dissimilar to a previous leveraged buyout orchestrated by the management to achieve a capital restructuring of the company in 2005. At the time, three lenders provided €27 million in debt to support the deal, which valued Cegos at around €90 million.

Ardian divested its minority stake in the company in December 2013, when it sold it back to the management and Cegos Association.

Since then, Cegos has continued to grow, both organically and through external acquisitions. In December 2014, the company bought Integrata, a German learning and development business generating revenue of around €40 million.

In September 2017, Cegos fully acquired France-based Cimes, a specialist in outsourced training management with annual turnover of around €10 million. The deal was an exit for French private equity firm Apicap, which owned a 45% stake in the company via its fund Ardens III, while the remainder was controlled by Cimes’s management team.

More recently, Cegos bought a majority stake in Crescimentum, a Brazilian leadership and management training business with turnover of around €7.7 million.

Following its acquisition of a stake in the company, Bridgepoint intends to “support Cegos’ team in their ambitious development project,” according to Bertrand Demesse, partner of BDC.

BDC invests between €40-150 million through its latest fund, BDC IV, which was raised in 2020 and has over €1.7 billion under management.

BDC’s portfolio currently consists of eight companies: Sotralu (acquired in 2014), Anaveo (acquired in 2015), CIR (acquired in 2017), PrivateSportShop (acquired in 2018), Bee2Link (acquired in 2019), Cyrus and Sendinblue (acquired in 2020) and PlugIn (acquired in 2021).

Date published: 15 March 2022

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