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BGF backs Orbital Education for further global expansion

BGF News 09.24.2019

Orbital Education has received a minority investment from BGF to support the group’s global growth ambitions.

Headquartered in Manchester, Orbital Education operates premium international schools for local and expat families looking to educate their children within an English-speaking, high-quality school environment. The group was started by serial entrepreneur Kevin McNeany, best known as the founder of Nord Anglia Education, which he led to an IPO in 1997 and is now the world’s largest private education business.

Orbital Education schools specialise in the delivery of English national curriculum for children between ages 2 and 18, leading to globally recognised qualifications for its diverse student population. The group has grown to ten private international schools across seven geographies, including China, Ecuador, Qatar, Russia, Hungary, Slovenia and Spain. It has also won multiple awards for exceptional growth and international sales, culminating in the Queen’s Award for Enterprise: International Trade, earlier this year.

BGF’s backing will be used to unlock further growth opportunities in new and existing markets through opening more schools and expanding Orbital Education’s premium education proposition around the world.

The investment also brings together two of the most influential education entrepreneurs of recent decades, as Rees Withers, founder of Cognita, joins McNeany on the board as non-executive director. Cognita is an international education group with more than 70 schools which Withers led through several rounds of private equity ownership.

Kevin McNeany, founder and chairman of Orbital Education, said: “We are delighted to join forces with BGF. We chose them as partners because of their unparalleled experience in supporting the growth of companies like Orbital Education and also uniquely, because of the team’s understanding of the international school sector. In addition, their patient approach is ideally aligned to the long-term investment required to bring new schools to maturity. Our growth has been excellent in the ten years since foundation but doubtlessly, it will now accelerate with the strength and energy of BGF alongside us.”

Harry Jones, an investor at BGF, added: “Orbital Education is a fantastic business with a proven and highly entrepreneurial leadership team. The teaching of the English curriculum is recognised globally for its quality and Orbital Education has successfully exported this to attractive overseas markets where demand for international schools of this calibre is high.

“The business has grown rapidly in recent years and we look forward to supporting Kevin and the team with their new school expansion plans. The prospect of partnering two real pioneers of the sector was a major attraction for us. The business is also a real success story for the North West, having expanded across the globe from its Cheadle HQ.”