Management Buy-Out of Award Winning Online Platform

One of the UK’s leading online learning platforms providing university accredited postgraduate Diploma, MSc and MBA courses, Learna, has completed a Management Buy-Out. The transaction provides a successful partial-exit for Learna’s Founder and Chairman, Prof Steve Davies and enables COO, Courtenay Probert and Commercial Director, Rachel Probert to lead the business into its next phase of growth. Funding for the transaction was provided by Harwood Capital Management Group and Barclays.

Learna, trading via its Diploma MSc and StudyPRN brands, has established itself as the leading provider of online postgraduate diplomas and masters medical courses, with 5,000 students having progressed their careers via one of its qualifications since 2010. Headquartered in Cardiff, the company delivers high-quality, flexible postgraduate education and CPD for professionals. Delivered in partnership with Universities such as The University of South Wales and The University of Gibraltar, online courses span from specialist MSc’s for medical professionals to a suite of executive MBA’s. The partnerships offer a distance learning alternative to standard postgraduate courses and a new way for business and healthcare professionals to grow their skills from home.  

On completion of the MBO, Courtenay and Rachel Probert said: “We are all very excited about the future of Learna. Since 2010, we have successfully launched over 27 online postgraduate courses in healthcare and are still achieving records levels of student intake each year. The transaction marks the next milestone for the business as we embark on increasing the number of courses, consistently delivering best in class service and empowering our students to undertake their professional and educational development across the world. The funding provided by Barclays and Harwood will help us accelerate some of this growth and bolster an already very talented team.”

Prof Steve Davies commented “Learna was first established in 2010 as a disruptive model offering an alternative to traditional residential postgraduate courses, providing university accredited qualifications completely online, in half the time and at a more competitive cost to traditional courses. Learna has established itself as a pioneer in the market, particularly within the medical sector. The last 12 months have further exposed the vulnerabilities of residential education and brought into focus the strengths of distance learning which the business will continue to scale from.”

As part of the MBO, Harwood will become a minority shareholder with Barclays providing debt funding for the transaction.

Jamie Ricketts, Barclays Business Relationship Director, said, “As champions of local business, it is essential that we support local growing businesses such as Learna. The business is a great example of an entrepreneur using their experience, contacts and skills to develop a successful business.  By really understanding the sector and working closely with the management team, we have been able to support the business throughout the MBO.”

Gambit Corporate Finance LLP acted as lead advisors on the transaction. The Gambit deal team was led by Partner, Frank Holmes and Associate Director, Sam Forman.

Sam Forman commented: “We are delighted to have advised on the MBO of Learna having worked closely with Steve and Courtenay over the past couple of years. Steve has an enviable track record of creating disruptive businesses and Learna is no exception. The business has been a pioneer and an advocate of online learning well before the more recent focus on the trend. Steve, Courtenay, Rachel and the rest of the team have created a real market leader and there are significant opportunities to continue the success both within and outside of the medical sector. The transaction is a textbook example of a successful MBO where Steve has been able to realise the value created since founding the business in 2010, whilst still retaining substantial ownership and involvement, as Courtney and Rachel lead the next chapter, bolstered by new funding and an exciting future.”

Legal advice to Prof Steve Davies was provided by Acuity Law – Paul Lowe, Partner and Chiara Howfield, Solicitor. Berry Smith provided legal advice to management, led by Owen James. Harwood were provided legal advice by BDB Pitmans.

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