Five Arrows Principal Investments (FAPI) has acquired French higher education business Groupe EDH (Ecoles Denis Huisman) from private equity firms Quilvest Capital Partners and IK Investment Partners.

The company was marketed off an EBITDA of around €30m, at a valuation in the €700 million region, a source close to the process told this publication. EDH came to market only a few months ago in a sale process run by Eurvad Finance, as exclusively reported by this publication.

The company’s management team has reinvested in the deal, while a potential reinvestment from Quilvest and IK is currently being considered and taken under review.

FAPI is the European private equity arm of Rothschild & Co’s Merchant Banking business. Its acquisition represents the fourth buyout for EDH, which has a long history in private equity hands.

Platina Partners bought an 80% stake in the company in September 2014, investing alongside manager and entrepreneur Amin Khiari, who acquired a minority stake and was appointed as president of the group.

Platina exited the business in November 2017, when it sold its stake to Quilvest, while Khiari retained his minority holding in the company. A unitranche facility was provided by CIC Private Debt and Idinvest, amounting to around 3-4x the company’s EBITDA.

In January 2020, IK Investment Partners entered the company’s share capital by acquiring a minority stake, while Quilvest remained the majority shareholder and Khiari retained a minority holding. CIC Private Debt and Idinvest provided once again a debt package to support the transaction. The deal valued the business at around €200m, equal to approximately 15x its 2019 EBITDA, according to market rumours.

Established in 1961 by French academic and author Denis Huisman, EDH manages a network of higher education schools dedicated to communication, arts management, graphic design, digital art, journalism, architecture, and cinema. The group operates eight brands with more than 10,000 students and 25 campuses located in France, Spain, the US, China, and Algeria.

EDH has completed a series of add-ons in the last five years, thus building a wide network of brands and educational institutions across Europe.

It purchased two French higher education groups that specialised in digital creation: Aries, a business with turnover of around €6.5 million, bought in June 2018; and Brassart, acquired in January 2019. Subsequently, the two schools were combined and integrated under the Brassart brand.

In October 2019, EDH bought Cesine, a Spanish private higher education institution for graphic design, marketing and fashion design.

More recently, it took over 3-D animation school Mopa, which was in receivership, and acquired Cread Institut, a Lyon-based architecture and interior design school.

Last year, EDH completed another bolt-on by acquiring Ecole superieure d’etudes cinematographiques (ESEC), a Paris-based film and television school, bought from media group Hildegarde.

Date Published: 25 May 2022

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