OMERS Takes 25% Stake in International Schools Partnership

The acquisition is part of the pension fund’s expansion into private equity opportunities across Europe.

The private equity investment division for the Ontario Municipal Employees’ Retirement System (OMERS) has bought a 25% stake in International Schools Partnership (ISP), a UK-based global network of K-12 private schools, as part of the pension fund’s private market expansion in Europe. 

The acquisition from Swiss asset manager Partners Group will value the international school group at about $2.3 billion, OMERS Private Equity said Monday. Partners Group will still hold a majority stake in ISP. 

ISP was part of a buy-and-build strategy for Partners Group when it first founded the school network in 2013. The private markets asset manager said it planned to capitalize on consolidation opportunities in the K-12 school market. 

Now, the investors are planning to continue expanding ISP’s international network. Since 2014, under the leadership of its chief executive Steve Brown, ISP has added 50 schools across 15 countries. It’s the fifth largest school network for K-12 students overseas. 

For OMERS, ISP will be part of its expansion into private equity opportunities across Europe, according to OMERS Head of European Private Equity and Senior Managing Director Jonathan Mussellwhite. 

“Over the last 15 years, OMERS Private Equity has successfully executed on a strategy of partnering with top management teams at industry-leading companies to support accelerated growth,” Mussellwhite said in a statement. “ISP is a great fit for this strategy.” 

The capital raised from the acquisition will be used to continue expanding ISP, particularly into investments in learning and technology, as well as improvement into physical infrastructure of the schools, and further mergers and acquisitions. 

OMERS has $12.3 billion (C$14.8 billion) allocated to private equity, about 14% of the $87 billion (C$105 billion) in total assets OMERS had under management as of December.

Among the UK and Europe-based assets in the OMERS Private Equity portfolio are workforce firm Alexander Mann Solutions, sustainability consultancy firm ERM, and behavioral health care provider Lifeways.

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