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March 18. 2014 10:01PM

European holding group buys Nashua's Skillsoft


SkillSoft President and CEO Chuck Moran speaks in 2009 at the New Hampshire High Technology Council Entrepreneur of the Year ceremony in Manchester. (UNION LEADER FILE)

NASHUA — A locally founded online learning company is being acquired by a private investment group from Europe at a reported price tag of $2.3 billion.

Charterhouse Capital Partners LLC is set to purchase Skillsoft, based in Nashua. The business training software firm announced the acquisition on Friday.

"We believe this transaction is a positive event for all of our customers," said Chuck Moran, president and CEO of Skillsoft, in an online letter to customers.

Skillsoft went up for sale at the start of the year for about $2 billion. Although the price of the acquisition has not yet been disclosed by company officials, Reuters reported it at about $2.3 billion.

Moran said the acquisition represents an endorsement of Skillsoft and its accomplishments over the past 20 years, and marks the beginning of an important phase in the evolution of the company.

Moran described Charterhouse as a well-known, highly respected private equity firm based in London and Paris that invests in strong management teams and businesses with proven track records for success and potential growth.

Moran stressed that Skillsoft, which has 1,400 employees globally and about 280 employees at its Nashua site, will continue to innovate, execute, serve and provide value to its customers.

"I can assure you that this will continue to be our focus," he said in the letter. "Further, we will have the support of a private equity firm with significant financial resources, and look forward to leveraging those resources to build upon the positive momentum we have created over the years."

The existing management team at Skillsoft will remain, including Moran as the company's CEO.

Frank van den Bosch, a partner of Charterhouse, said in a statement that his firm is delighted to have the opportunity to partner with Skillsoft, which has its world headquarters in Dublin, Ireland, and its national headquarters in Nashua at 107 Northeastern Blvd.

"We see a tremendous future for Skillsoft and look forward to working with Chuck (Moran) and the Skillsoft team to achieve our goals," he added.

Skillsoft was taken private by Berkshire Partners, Advent and Bain in 2010 for $1.1 billion. It reported adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization of $139.2 million for the 12 months ended Jan. 31, 2013, up from $111.1 million the year before.

During the collective ownership, Skillsoft has grown significantly, according to Michael Ascione, managing director of Berkshire Partners.

"We believe that the company is very well-positioned to continue to enhance its leadership position in the field of technology-delivered learning," Ascione said in a news release.

Skillsoft provides electronic learning solutions such as digitized books, videos and content development tools to more than 6,000 customers and 19 million learners worldwide, according to its website. Last year, the company was named one of TrainingIndustry.com's top 20 training outsourcing companies and top 20 leadership training companies.

Reuters contributed to this report.
khoughton@newstote.com


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