Learning Pool, a strategic leader in the U.K. & U.S. learning technology markets, has today agreed to a new investment from Marlin Equity Partners (“Marlin”), a global investment firm with over $7.6 billion of capital under management, to support the company’s continued growth. Under the terms of the agreement, Marlin will also acquire the shareholding of Carlyle Cardinal Ireland.
Learning Pool’s integrated suite of digital learning products and services has enabled more than 1,100 companies to migrate their training initiatives to modern cloud technology, including global brands like The FA, Intercontinental Hotels Group, Sky, and Swiss Re. Learning Pool helps companies at every stage of the employee lifecycle, creating engaging onboarding experiences, rigorous compliance training, and meaningful skills development opportunities for more than 5 million learners every year.
Founded in Northern Ireland and currently ranked as one of the top 60 Large Best Companies to Work for in the U.K., Learning Pool’s expert workforce has grown to more than 260 employees across the U.K. and U.S. The Marlin investment will facilitate further job creation with plans already in place to hire an additional 100 Learning Pool employees across the group this year alone.
Since the initial investment from Carlyle Cardinal Ireland in 2016, Learning Pool has experienced dramatic growth as revenue has increased four-fold during this time. The company has also been at the forefront of launching next-generation learning technology products and has received multiple awards for outstanding customer service. In addition, Learning Pool has made four acquisitions in four years, most recently acquiring U.S.-based LMS expert, Remote Learner, which enhanced the company’s presence in the U.S. market. Marlin is expected to help accelerate growth both organically and through additional acquisitions.
Speaking about the investment, Learning Pool Group CEO Paul McElvaney said:
“Over the past five years we have achieved phenomenal growth with the fantastic support of Carlyle Cardinal Ireland, and we’re very grateful for the help and encouragement we’ve had from the team. We’re delighted to have found the right partner to help us continue our momentum and grow the Learning Pool brand globally. Marlin has an incredible heritage in helping businesses like ours scale and innovate. We’re excited to be working with them and confident that both our customers and our team will see immediate benefits from Marlin’s investment. Learning Pool’s entire executive management team has re-invested in the company, providing a compelling foundation upon which we’ll build the next phase of growth.”
Jan-Olivier Fillols, a managing director at Marlin Equity Partners, said:
“Learning Pool has achieved significant growth through its customer-centric philosophy and unique end-to-end e-Learning proposition. We believe the business is extremely well-positioned to capitalize on a highly attractive market opportunity, and we are excited to partner with an exceptional team to drive both organic and inorganic growth together.”
Jonathan Cosgrave, Partner at Melior Equity Partners which advises the CCI fund on behalf of Carlyle, said:
“Learning Pool’s success in growing revenue and profits four-fold through organic growth and acquisition, while tripling employee numbers and launching next-generation learning products, clearly demonstrate the potential of founder-led Irish technology companies when partnered with an investor that facilitates a strong growth environment. The performance of Learning Pool’s management team and employees has been exceptional, and we wish them continued success for the future.”
John Dolan, Managing Director, Cardinal Capital Group said:
“Learning Pool has been a great growth story for CCI. When we invested originally the company had 80 employees in one office, predominantly servicing U.K. public-sector customers. It now has over 260 employees across six offices around the world, and with over 30% of the revenue coming from North America. This is a classic example of the benefits we can bring to an Irish company willing to look west instead of east for accelerated growth. Paul and Louise McElvaney are outstanding entrepreneurs who have built a fabulous culture where all employees look after each other, which has been a huge asset to the company during the COVID pandemic.”
Picture detail. Left to right:
Pictured at the Marlin Equity office at Verde SW1, Victoria, London.
Learning Pool is a full-service online training provider to workplaces around the world, offering learning courses, platforms, analytics and custom content development services to over 1,100 organizations and 5.1 million learners. Over the last twelve months, the company has been featured on 14 eLearning Industry lists for excellence in learning platforms and content creation and achieved a double-award win at the Brandon Hall Excellence Awards, including Gold for Technology Innovation. Learning Pool also won double Gold in the Stevie Awards for Customer Service, was announced as ‘World Class’ to work for in 2021 Best Companies accreditation program and became the only Strategic Leader to offer a Lower Total Cost of Ownership in the 2021 Fosway 9-Grid for Digital Learning. For more information, please see www.learningpool.com.
Marlin Equity Partners is a global investment firm with over $7.6 billion of capital under management. The firm is focused on providing corporate parents, shareholders and other stakeholders with tailored solutions that meet their business and liquidity needs. Marlin invests in businesses across multiple industries where its capital base, industry relationships and extensive network of operational resources significantly strengthen a company’s outlook and enhance value. Since its inception, Marlin, through its group of funds and related companies, has successfully completed over 180 acquisitions. The firm is headquartered in Los Angeles, California, with an additional office in London. For more information, please visit www.marlinequity.com.
Carlyle Cardinal Ireland is a joint venture between The Carlyle Group (NASDAQ: CG) and Cardinal Capital Group. The €292 million private equity fund is focused on growth capital and buyout investment opportunities across the island of Ireland and investors include the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund and Enterprise Ireland.
The Carlyle Group (NASDAQ: CG) is a global investment firm with deep industry expertise that deploys private capital across four business segments: Corporate Private Equity, Real Assets, Global Credit and Investment Solutions. With $260 billion of assets under management as of March 31, 2021, Carlyle’s purpose is to invest wisely and create value on behalf of our investors, portfolio companies and the communities in which we live and invest. Carlyle employs more than 1,800 professionals in 29 offices across five continents. Further information is available at www.carlyle.com. Follow Carlyle on Twitter @OneCarlyle.
Cardinal Capital Group is Ireland’s leading provider of alternative capital, directing private equity capital, mezzanine finance and alternative lending to a broad range of sectors in the Irish market. Cardinal invests its own capital alongside institutional funders to support entrepreneurs and corporate management teams as well as real estate investors and developers.
Melior Equity Partners is a leading Irish private equity investment firm headquartered in Dublin with a strong track record of supporting Irish management teams and investing in small to medium-sized private businesses in Ireland. The Melior team members invested in the CCI fund from 2014 to 2019 and are one of the most experienced private equity investment teams in the Irish market. Melior combines best-in-class international standards and far-reaching networks developed at leading global investment firms, with a deep knowledge of the local marketplace to bring a unique approach to investing and partnering with management teams in Ireland.
Further information is available at www.meliorequity.com.
Learning Pool and the management team were advised by Beltrae Partners, Millar McCall Wylie and Robert W. Baird & Co. Financial Due Diligence was provided by Deloitte and Tax Due Diligence by Grant Thornton.
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