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BPP Law School changes hands in $1.1bn private equity deal

The dean of BPP University Law School Peter Crisp (pictured) says its ‘business as usual’ as the education provider has changed hands in a $1.1bn deal involving three private equity firms. The school is used by more than 50 City law firms to educate their lawyers.

The consortium, led by private equity giant Apollo Global Management, has taken Apollo Education private after 22 years on the New York Stock Exchange. Vistria Group, a Chicago private equity house launched in 2013 by President Obama ally Martin Nesbitt, and Arizona-based Najafi Cos are the other investors in the consortium.

Apollo Education purchased BPP, which currently has 5,500 law students, in 2009 for over £300m. The for-profit education group also owns the University of Phoenix, is one of the largest private universities in the US with nine colleges.

The merger agreement states that if Apollo Education were to terminate the deal outside of specified circumstances then it will have to pay the consortium $27.5m. If the consortium walks away from the deal it will have to pay Apollo Education $25m.

BPP, which has won an increasing amount of contracts from law firms after steering its courses towards more business-based learning, became just the second for-profit education provider granted university status in 2013. BPP has four schools and also provides accounting and tax qualifications.

Crisp told Legal Business: ‘We’ve had different owners in the past, we have been a PLC and a privately owned company, and this is the way of business. We’ve had some spectacular growth over the last five years, with 55 law firms sending their students to us on an exclusive basis, and that’s a testament to our ability to listen to our employers and understand the needs of practice.

He added: ‘We’re a practice-facing law school. We have a light touch with Apollo [Education] – they don’t interfere.’

Read more on legal education in: ‘Blowing in the wind: is legal education change creating a perfect storm for reform?’