BPP Law School backs £300m takeover by US bidder

The parent company of top UK law school BPP has accepted a £303.5m takeover offer from a US education provider in a move that will be closely watched by the legal profession.

BPP Holdings today (8 June) made an announcement on the London Stock Exchange that the all-cash offer by Apollo Global worth 620p per share – a premium on Friday’s closing price of 567p – had been agreed by the board of BPP, subject to a shareholder vote.

Apollo Global is a joint venture owned by US education provider Apollo Group and private equity house Carlyle Group. The takeover has seen the creation of Apollo UK, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Apollo Global.

Apollo had already announced its interest in BPP on 29 April after tabling a preliminary approach for the group at a 70% premium on BPP’s pre-bid share price.

The US education group Apollo Group was formed in 1973 and has built a business focused on higher education with annual revenues of around $3bn (£1.88bn).

The Nasdaq-listed company owns and operates the University of Phoenix, the Institute for Professional Development, the College for Financial Planning, Western International University and Meritus University.

BPP said that the deal is expected to become effective around 31 July this year. BPP chairman David Sugden said: “For our employees, it allows them to continue their excellent work in making BPP a leading education provider but to do so with the additional benefit of the scale of resources and expertise that Apollo can provide.

“For our customers, they will see our educational products enhanced by the expertise that Apollo will bring while enjoying continuity in the people and facilities that they are used to dealing with. Everyone who has been involved in BPP in the 33 years since it was founded can be proud of the great company that it is today.”

Macfarlanes and Eversheds were lead counsel on the deal, advising BPP and Apollo respectively.

BPP’s business spans professional services training in the UK including accountancy, tax practitioners, lawyers, insolvency practitioners, actuaries, financial services professionals, and marketing practitioners.

The takeover will be closely watched by UK lawyers given BPP’s status as one of the most influential players in the legal education sphere. BPP is sole supplier to the so-called City LPC consortium, acting as exclusive LPC provider to Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Herbert Smith, Lovells, Norton Rose and Slaughter and May.

In addition to providing LPC training for a host of major UK law firms and aspiring barristers, BPP hit the headlines in 2007 when it became the first for-profit education provider to be given the power to award degrees.

The acquisition hands a US-based education company by far the most significant entry yet achieved in the UK legal education market, trumping Kaplan’s joint venture with Nottingham Law School.

One partner with a consortium firm said: “I cannot see why they would change anything. They will not tear it apart and start all over again – the business is successful and it is important that the law school is around.”