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France: Ardian’s AD Education buys Oktogone for €200m

Higher education platform AD Education, which is backed by private equity firm Ardian, has acquired digital education and training provider Oktogone.

This publication has learnt that the company was valued at around €200 million, a valuation that equates to 20x its €10 million EBITDA.

“The sale process was limited and highly competitive,” a source told this publication. “The company attracted the interest of several trade buyers, mainly French players but also some international bidders.”

“The business is strongly linked to French regulations, especially on the financing side,” our source added. “This requires a deep understanding of the French regulatory framework and can make an asset like this less appealing to international buyers.”

Established in 2002 by founder and chairman Régis Micheli, Oktogone offers online training in the digital, communication, marketing and management sectors. The business operates through two platforms: ISCOD, a fully digital higher education provider offering apprenticeship degrees, and Visiplus, an online professional training platform.

AD Education plans to support Oktogone’s growth and boost its expansion with the launch of new degrees, while accelerating the company’s digitalisation in France and internationally. Following this acquisition, the group expects to generate revenue of over €220 million.

This add-on shortly follows the acquisition of SAE, an audiovisual education business purchased by AD Education from Australian global education provider Navitas last February.

Founded in 2009, AD Education operates a network of 15 schools on 66 campuses in France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, the Netherlands, the UK and Greece, with more than 22,000 students. The business specialises in four main sub-segments: design and graphical arts, media and digital, audiovisual and culture and luxury.

Ardian acquired a majority stake in the company in December 2020, investing alongside chairman Kevin Guenegan and the management team. The deal reportedly valued AD Education at around €600m, equal to about 19x its EBITDA. Cathay Capital and Bpifrance, which had invested in the business in February 2017 by acquiring a combined stake of around 40%, made a 5x return on their investment, according to press reports.

Oktogone was advised by Financière de Courcelles as financial advisor, Cygler Avocats and Allrights Avocats as legal advisors and D’Ornano for financial due diligence.

The buyers were advised by Eurvad as financial advisor, Willkie Farr & Gallagher and Latham & Watkins as legal advisors, BCG for commercial due diligence and KPMG for financial due diligence.

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