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College of Law sells itself to private equity

17 April 2012

The College of Law, currently a charity, has decided to sell its legal education and training business to Montagu Private Equity and set up a separate charity, the Legal Education Foundation.

The governors of the college said this morning that proceeds of the sale would contribute to a fund of over £200m for the charity, to promote legal education for future generations through bursaries, scholarships and grants.

They said the new charity would be one of the largest independent educational charities in the UK.

Professor David Yates, chairman of the college governors, said: “The College of Law was established over 50 years ago as a charitable institution with the specific object of the advancement of legal education.

“Over the decades, the college has become the leading professional law school in the UK and now competes in an increasingly commercial marketplace.

“Given the changing education environment, it was appropriate for the governors to undertake a major strategic review of the best way for the charity to meet this objective in the future.

“Montagu’s investment will give the College of Law the freedom and support to continue to build its position as a leading professional legal education institution in the UK and internationally.”

Yates added that he was delighted to have secured a “significant fund in perpetuity” for the Legal Education Foundation which would be able to focus on the charitable objectives of ensuring the legal education market is fair, diverse and open to all.

Publishing group Pearson and private equity firms Providence and Palamon Capital Partners were all mentioned as possible buyers of the College of Law, before Montagu was named by The Sunday Times in February (see solicitorsjournal.com, 28 February 2012).

Alex Dabbous, director of Montagu, said: “The College of Law’s strength lies in the quality of its education provision, decades of experience from talented staff and management, its national footprint and excellent facilities.”

Montagu has appointed Sir Tim Wilson, a former Vice Chancellor of the University of Hertfordshire, as a non-executive director of the newly created board of the college.

The private equity firm has agreed to establish a £2m college scholarship fund and pay into it two per cent of the share capital of the college’s holding company.

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Education & Training