The company

Founded in Glasgow over 120 years ago, ICS pioneered the concept of distance learning with the objective of democratising education. ICS is the oldest distance learning provider in a market which has seen dramatic expansion with the arrival of the internet.    At the time of our investment, ICS offered over 150 flexible courses, having helped educate more than 13 million people.

The opportunity

When Par Equity first invested, ICS Learn was a loss- making, distressed business which the previous owner, a German education trust, was looking to quickly offload or put into administration. Around 50 employees’ jobs were at risk and c. 6,000 students were in danger of losing their education provider altogether. Par Equity saw an opportunity to restructure a business with excellent brand value, save jobs, and quickly grow the company with the addition of a new board, CEO and investment in its customer service technology. 

The exit

ICS was sold for £29m in May 2018 in a Management Buyout backed by Primary Capital. The sale represented a 76x money multiple for the Par Equity investors and an IRR of 128%. It also won Best Exit of the Year 2018 at the Growth Investor, EISA awards and Tax Efficiency Awards.

What they said

Colin Kennedy, CEO of ICS Learn, commented, “ICS Learn is a well-recognised brand, providing online professional training in growing end markets. I am excited about the business’s future and the opportunities we have in both existing and new qualifications. We will continue to drive growth in student numbers whilst retaining our student-centric service ethos.”