Pearson, the educational publisher, today made a move to beef up its international professional IT testing business: it announced that it is buying Certiport, a developer, marketer and distributor of certification exams and practice tests for IT and digital literacy skills, for $140 million in cash from the private equity firm Spire Capital Partners.
The deal will give Pearson’s VUE unit, where Certiport will sit, much further reach into the retail distribution of testing services in markets outside of the U.S. and UK: Certiport currently sells its certifications and assessments through a network of 12,000 testing centers operated by 70 partners in 150 countries, serving the range of skills in the world of IT. In all, it delivers 225,000 exams in 27 languages every month, and generated revenues of $48 million in 2011.
Certiport, which was founded in 1997 in Utah, creates certification programs for software from companies like Microsoft, Adobe, HP and Intuit. With Certiport having 60 percent of its business currently outside of the U.S., the deal will mean not only a stronger profile in IT educational services for Pearson, but a window on to a wider geographic footprint, especially in Asia and the Middle East. The existing testing network will also become a channel that Pearson can use to distribute testing and certification content already in its portfolio.
“Certiport is a high-quality company serving the significant demand for foundation IT skills. That need is growing fast and is truly international,” said Rona Fairhead, chief executive of Pearson’s professional education businesses, in a statement.”The combination of Pearson VUE and Certiport will strengthen both businesses and will give us a unique portfolio of technology assessments and certification, serving everyone from a basic word-processing users to technology experts.”
Pearson notes that Certiport’s revenues have been growing at a compound annual rate of 20 percent in the last three years, with the integration costs for Certiport expensed in 2012 and the acquisition showing up in Pearson’s earnings from 2013.
Pearson VUE provides a full suite of services from test development to data management, and delivers exams through the world’s most comprehensive and secure network of test centers in 175 countries. Pearson VUE is a business of Pearson (NYSE: PSO; LSE: PSON) , the international education and information company, whose businesses include the Financial Times Group, Pearson Education and the Penguin Group.
Certiport® prepares individuals with current and relevant digital skills and credentials for the competitive global workforce. These solutions are delivered by more than 12,000 Certiport Centers worldwide and include the official Microsoft Office certification program, the Microsoft Technology Associate certification program, the Adobe® Certified Associate certification program, the CompTIA Strata™ IT Fundamentals, the Autodesk® Certified User certification program, the Intuit® QuickBooks Certified User certification program and the Internet and Computing Core Certification (IC³® ).
Founded in 2000, Spire Capital is an active and experienced private equity firm with an investment focus in small market companies within the business services, information services, media and communications sectors. Spire Capital seeks to lead small market buyout investments in its areas of expertise and believes its deep industry experience and network of relationships are invaluable in helping its portfolio companies to grow and succeed. Spire Capital currently has approximately $600 million in assets under management across two...