Exponent exits first investment

UK buyout firm Charterhouse Capital Partners has agreed a secondary buyout of TSL Education, the educational publishing business that was Exponent Private Equity’s first acquisition as an independent entity.

UK mid-market firm Exponent Private Equity has made its first ever exit as an independent firm, selling TSL Education, the UK’s biggest education publishing business, to Charterhouse Capital Partners just 18 months after buying the company.

The Times Educat-ional Supplement

Charterhouse has paid an undisclosed sum for TSL, which publishes the Times Education Supplement, amongst other titles, and also has a conferences and exhibitions business.

The deal represents a “quick flip” for Exponent, who only bought the business from News International in October 2005 for about £235 million (€344 million; $465 million). It was the firm’s first deal since its four founders left UK-listed private equity group 3i, and came thirteen months after it closed its debut fund with £400 million of commitments.

Exponent’s Richard Lenane said his firm had backed TSL “in modernising its publications and moving into new market areas” during its 18 month period of ownership. “We are very pleased that TSL has been successful in its efforts,” he added.

Under the terms of the sale, the existing management will re-invest in the secondary buyout and remain with the business under its new owners.

TSL Education chief executive Bernard Gray paid tribute to the company’s former owners: “All of us are immensely grateful to Exponent for the investment and support they have given us since 2005,” he said. “The company has been modernised and Exponent have invested almost £10 million in the company’s infrastructure over the past two years.”

Gray said Charterhouse would “work with the company in the same spirit” and shared with the management team a “common vision for the growth of the business.”

Dresdner Keinwort advised Exponent on the deal. The bank is making a deliberate effort to attract more mid-market private equity clients, and recently hired Mark Barrow, former head of financial sponsor coverage at Close Brothers, to spearhead its charge. Barrow, who starts at the end of this month once he has served his gardening leave, will report to Dresdner’s financial sponsors head Tariq Hussain.