Photo from Wishford Schools’ website

Patron Capital Partners, a private equity firm dedicated to real estate investments, has acquired Wishford Schools, a group of independent schools based in the UK, EducationInvestor Global can reveal.

The business has an EV of around £27 million, according to a source close to the process.

“This asset represents one of the very few groups of independent schools on the market and has attracted the interest of various potential buyers,”a second source close to the business told this publication. “Despite the challenges brought by the pandemic and the potential future changes in the tax regime for independent schools, it is a very attractive asset and might have reached a valuation in the 12-15x region.”

After recording an 8% decrease in turnover and a 21% drop in profit during the first year of the pandemic, the company increased its revenue and profitability in 2021, exceeding pre-pandemic levels.

Wishford Schools generated turnover of £20 million last year – a 12% increase on the previous year, and gross profit of £4 million – a 49% increase on 2020.

Patron Capital invests in property, corporate operating entities, credit related businesses and debt related instruments, whose value is primarily supported by property assets and is typically driven by a liquidity event with one of the existing parties. Given its investment focus, it is possible that the firm has put into place a opco propco strategy for this acquisition.

Following the deal, Patron Capital partner and investment director Irina Stamate-Rocha has been appointed as a director of Wishford Schools.

Wishford Schools is a group of independent prep and senior schools which comprises nine schools: Heywood Prep and Cricklade Manor Prep in Wiltshire; Hatherop Castle, Westonbirt Prep and Westonbirt School in Gloucestershire; St Edward’s Prep in Berkshire; and St Faith’s Prep, St David’s Prep and The Mead in Kent.

Date published: 6 April 2022

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