Multi-million pound equity injection from CCI for Derry e-learning firm Learning Pool
GLOBAL asset manager the Carlyle Group has made its first significant investment in Northern Ireland after buying a £4m-plus stake in Derry-based technology firm Learning Pool.
Carlyle Group, which has $180 billion of assets under its management, established the Carlyle Cardinal Ireland (CCI) Fund with Cardinal Capital Group in 2014 and the fund has nearly €300m to invest in established Irish companies with strong management teams which have ambitions for further growth.
Having previously provided massive cash injections to the likes of Payzone, Lily O’Brien’s and Carroll Cuisine in the Republic, CCI told the Irish News last year that is was "actively seeking opportunities" to invest in northern companies.
And it confirmed yesterday that it was buying into e-learning firm Learning Pool, which delivers cost effective online learning solutions to organisations throughout Britain and Ireland.
Although the financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed, CCI investments start at a minimum €5m.
Founded in 2006 by technology entrepreneur Paul McElvaney (who will stay on in the business), Learning Pool (www.learningpool.com) employs 80 people in Derry.
Every day a community of 1.25 million learners across 350 companies and government bodies uses its products and services to meet compliance requirements and drive performance improvement.
Learning Pool’s award winning technology and training catalogues are used by a range of companies in both the public and private sectors,with its clients including the NHS, the UK Houses of Parliament, Jury’s Inn, Capita, and British Sugar.
Its decision to partner with CCI was driven by the fund’s global contacts and strategic experience in growing similar sized companies.
The investment will help Learning Pool continue to build out the team and develop new, innovative products to serve existing customers and attract new ones. The existing management team will continue in their current leadership roles and are investing further as shareholders in the business. Jonathan Cosgrave and John Dolan from CCI will join the board of directors of Learning Pool.
Mr McElvaney said: “We've always believed in Learning Pool’s potential to take on the world and have doubled our business over the last three years, and in CCI we believe we have exactly the right partners to help us develop our business and help us realise that potential.
"This investment will fast track our growth and allows us to build out our technology and content at a quicker pace for our customers benefit. I’m excited about the next phase of Learning Pool’s growth that will see us deliver more product innovation and significant expansion of our customer base and our team.”
Carlyle Group managing director Jonathan Cosgrave said: “Learning Pool is well positioned to continue growing its share of the estimated £675m UK e-learning market. We’ve been impressed with its innovative technologies, quality of service and the entrepreneurial leadership team and look forward to supporting further growth of the business.”
John Dolan, Cardinal Capital Group's managing director, added: “The recent trend has been for companies to spend more of their training budgets online. The ease of access for employees from mobile devices together with a more consistent experience means the e-learning market is growing at over 10 per cent each year.
"Learning Pool, which provides its customers with a one-stop solution for their e-learning needs, is ideally placed to meet this demand with their online offering and training catalogues which companies can customise as they require.”