Pearson Buys Certiport For $140M To Beef Up Its IT Testing Business Globally

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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.