Synova backs Learnlight; FSI takes AlbaCore; private equity keen on London

Learnlight is a provider of digital-first language and skills training to multi-national corporations.

Good morning Eurohubsters, Nina Lindholm here with the final Dealflow of the week.

We’re focusing on London today. This week, we saw a bunch of interesting deals in which the target companies had their headquarters in London. Regent is to carve out Pearson Online Learning Services (POLS) from Pearson, Synova invested in a digital-first language and skills training provider and First Sentier Investors picked up a majority stake in a European credit manager.

On top of that, I also wrote a round-up of firms strengthening their position in the UK capital.

We’ll also revisit this week’s women in PE stories, in case you missed any.


Let’s start with one of the deals. Synova invested in Learnlight, a provider of digital-first language and skills training to multi-national corporations. Learnlight is headquartered in London.

Beech Tree Private Equity reinvested in the company alongside Synova. Beech Tree first invested in the firm in 2017.

“The business has seen a five-fold increase in profitability and expansion into five countries here in Europe and Mexico since we invested and has significant opportunity to grow further in these territories as well as new ones,” said Andy Marsh, managing partner at Beech Tree.

Synova and Beech Tree will assist the company in targeted acquisitions to support further international expansion and continuing to develop its technology offering, according to a release.

“Learnlight’s industry-leading and digital-first proposition offers a multitude of expansion opportunities in a very large and fragmented global market,” said Tim Ashlin, partner at Synova.

Loving London

We’ve noticed many firms focusing on the UK capital. Some are opening new offices, others consolidating their position with larger spaces or new staff appointments. I wrote a round-up of some of the recent activity we’ve seen here on PE Hub Europe.

My list included firms such as Blackstone and Thoma Bravo, and a recent move by Great Hill Partners, which announced a new London office only this week.

“With a presence in London, we believe we can further bolster our investment activity throughout Europe as well as strengthen our ability to support our US-based portfolio companies as they look to potentially expand their businesses overseas,” said Drew Loucks, managing director at Great Hill.

Online learning

There was another deal this week with a London-headquartered company and a focus on learning. Regent is set to buy Pearson Online Learning Services (POLS) from Pearson.

POLS is Pearson’s online programme management (OPM) business. POLS gross assets stood at £113 million ($138 million; $129 million) and net assets at £78 million as of 31 December 2022. The business recorded £155 million of revenue and £26 million of adjusted operating losses in 2022.

The sale concludes a strategic review and enables further progress in reshaping Pearson’s portfolio towards future growth opportunities, according to a release.

Payment will be deferred. Pearson will receive 27.5 percent of POLS’ positive adjusted EBITDA in each calendar year for a period of six years from completion of the transaction, the release added.

Regent will receive a further contingent payment equal to 27.5 percent of the proceeds in relation to any monetisation event of POLS.


Let’s take a look at one more deal with a London-based target company. First Sentier Investors (FSI) made a majority investment in AlbaCore Capital Group, a European credit manager.

AlbaCore has $9.5 billion in assets under management. The company’s senior team will maintain a minority stake in the company and will continue to invest capital into funds, according to a release.

“We identified alternative credit as a strategically important space for us to consider and we felt that AlbaCore’s unique position in the European market, its growth trajectory and strong investment performance would be complementary to our existing capabilities,” said Mark Steinberg, CEO of FSI.

Women in PE

I thought I’d highlight this week’s stories in our Women in PE series. Firstly, Craig McGlashan spoke with Sunaina Sinha Haldea, global head of the private capital advisory group at Raymond James.

Sinha Haldea had some strong words about the state of diversity in the industry. When GPs argue that they can’t find any women, she simply doesn’t buy it. “Really? It’s 50 percent of the population last time I checked,” she said.

I caught up with PAI Partners’ Julie Gautier, who is a principal in PAI’s food and consumer team. She echoed Sinha Haldea’s thoughts. “Whenever you have a recruitment process, you must make sure you include women in the process,” Gautier told me. “It sounds stupid when you say it, but most of the time, it’s not done.”

My colleague Irien Joseph interviewed Louise Kingston, a director at Baird Capital. While Kingston has not had a negative experience in the industry, she also acknowledged the change needed. “It does seem to be changing a lot,” she said. “The fact that PE is male-dominated hasn’t been a bad experience for me. But I think the gender balance is something that people want to address generally. As an industry, there’s a lot of focus around this now, and we certainly give it attention at Baird Capital.”

That’s all from me. I hope you have a great weekend. I’m keeping with the London theme myself, as I will be in the city on Monday.