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US: Anthology and Blackboard to merge

Boca Raton, Florida-based Anthology, which provides learning management software and communication tools, and Blackboard, a global ed tech software and solutions company headquartered in Washington DC, are combining their two companies.

Blackboard states it has 150 million users in more than 80 countries, including higher education institutions, K12 schools, governments and businesses.

Anthology provides higher education enterprise software and solutions around enrolment management, student engagement, alumni fundraising and institutional effectiveness. Anthology caters to more than 2,000 colleges and universities in more than 30 countries.

The combined entity will be majority owned by Veritas Capital, a private equity firm that focuses on investments in technology or technology-enabled companies. Leeds Equity Partners, a private equity firm which partners with companies in the knowledge industries, will hold a minority stake. Veritas and Leeds are currently the majority owners of Anthology. Providence Equity Partners, Blackboard’s existing majority owner, will hold a minority stake in the combined company.

Jim Milton, chairman and chief executive of Anthology, will become chairman and chief executive of the combined company. He said: “Upon the completion of this merger, we will have a data-driven product portfolio that seeks to touch every constituent at the institution and will aim to transform the way education uses technology to engage, connect, teach, learn and drive efficiencies across the institution. We believe this combination will enhance the solutions and services available to faculty and students, and we are deeply committed to delivering greater value and innovation to our customers and partners. Anthology and Blackboard are fully aligned around a deep focus on learner success, and I am excited to lead the combined company as we embark on this next phase of growth together.”

Bill Ballhaus, president, chairman and chief executive of Blackboard, commented: “Together, Blackboard and Anthology will lead the next wave of ed tech innovation. We believe that combining our companies will enable us to break down data silos across the institution and surface deeper insights about the learner so that we can deliver unmatched personalised experiences across the full learner lifecycle.”

Milbank was legal advisor to Anthology and Veritas, and J.P. Morgan and UBS are providing committed financing to Anthology for the proposed transaction.

Deutsche Bank was financial advisor to Blackboard, and Weil, Gotshal & Manges was legal advisor to Blackboard. Debevoise & Plimpton was legal advisor to Providence.

The transaction is expected to close by the end of the year.

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