One of Britain’s biggest privately owned education groups has picked banks to lead a £2bn auction amid booming investor appetite for the sector.
Sky News has learnt that the owners of Cognita, which operates 40 schools across the UK and dozens more overseas, has asked Goldman Sachs and Barclays to oversee a sale of the company later this year.
The auction is expected to generate huge returns to KKR and EMK Capital, the two private equity backers of Cognita.
Two rival education companies – Nord Anglia Education and GEMS Education – are reported to be among the potentially interested bidders at a time of accelerating interesting consolidation across the industry.
Cognita’s portfolio includes the Southbank International School in Kensington, Hong Kong’s Stamford American School, and schools in Brazil, Chile, Singapore, Spain, Thailand and Vietnam.
The company is run by Chris Jansen, a former AA chief executive and senior British Gas manager.
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Sources close to the impending sale process said that Cognita’s shareholders were focused on a private auction rather than a public listing of the company.
Cognita could not be reached for comment on Thursday.