According to the IB industry on September 25, MBK Partners, Korea’s largest privately equity fund (PEF) management company, took part in a bid for Wall Street English (WSE), the world's largest language school.
MBK was qualified to participate in the main bidding as the company participated in a preliminary bidding last month and was selected as an eligible candidate (short list) with multiple PEFs and strategic investors.
The largest shareholder of WSE is Pearson, a former owner of the world's leading Financial Times (FT) and the former owner of the Economist and a British education company with well-known publishers such as Penguin Books and Longman among others. The IB industry expects the WSE acquisition price to reach around US$ 400 million.
Pearson acquired Wall Street Institute for US$ 348 million from 2009 to 2010 and changed its name to WSE in 2013. WSE is the world's largest language school with about 200,000 annual members at over 450 training centers in 29 countries around the world. In 2002, the language school entered Korea under the name of the Wall Street Institute and is now running ten training centers in Seoul, Busan, and Daegu among others.
The sale of WSE is aimed at restructuring the business and ensuring liquidity. The sell-off plan is blamed on Pearson’s worst deficit in the 173-year-ong history of the company due to the deteriorating publishing market. In 2015, the FT was sold to the Nihon Keizai Shimbun, a Japanese economic daily for 844 million pound and sold off its stakes in the Economist and Penguin Books.
Over the past 13 years, MBK Partners has acquired 29 companies mostly in Northeast Asian countries such as Korea, China, Japan and Taiwan.