Sale of Next Connex to Wifinity

BGF investment in Apprentify

It has been an amazing experience for the entire Apprentify Group team to work with Blacksquare Advisory. The attention to detail and support we received throughout the entire process to ensure we received the best possible deal was exceptional. Without them, we would have been unable to accomplish what we did.

Paul Drew
Founder and Managing Director of Apprentify Group

Blacksquare Advisory advised the shareholders of Apprentify Group, a provider of IT and digital skills apprenticeships, on its investment by BGF and the concurrent acquisition of Netcom Training, a complimentary provider of commercial training in the IT and digital space.

Value: £25m
Location: Cheshire and West Midlands
Acquirer: BGF (alongside debt funding from OakNorth)

Headquartered at Alderley Park, in Cheshire, Apprentify is a provider of apprenticeship training, specialising in technology, digital marketing and social media courses, seeking to help organisations recruit, train and develop new talent to enable digital transformation within.

The Adult Education Budget, National Skills Fund, and Apprenticeship Levy all provide committed and sustained public investment in adult skills training, with a particular emphasis on the digital, technology, and IT skills gap, ideally positioning Apprentify to capitalise on political and market tailwinds and further expand its provision of vocationally led skills training for the ‘jobs of tomorrow’.

With the shift away from classroom-based to digital courses and learning, Apprentify’s infrastructure and platform enables it to deliver training programs both regionally and nationally.

In addition to the sizeable organic growth potential, the opportunity was also positioned as a buy-and-build play, capitalising on a highly fragmented market across the UK.

As a first step, investment was sought in the enlarged Apprentify Group, a provider of IT and digital skills apprenticeships, to support the acquisition of Netcom Training, an adult learning training provider, to create a training business covering the full pathway from skills training through to apprenticeships and commercial outcomes via job placements.

Blacksquare Advisory prepared a suite of marketing materials to support early discussions with a group of potential investors. The market for adult education and training has seen strong institutional interest and investment, and consolidation activity in recent years, with private equity well-versed in the nuances and value drivers of the space.

Given the complexities of running a triple-track process (equity investment, debt raise and concurrent acquisition of Netcom), Blacksquare Advisory targeted a narrow set of motivated investors, most with prior knowledge and experience of the market.

BGF quickly emerged as the standout party for the Apprentify shareholders, as a highly regarded minority investor with a long-term outlook, and a strong track-record of helping businesses scale through buy-and-build strategies.

Blacksquare Advisory fully managed the process, co-ordinating the various parties involved, navigating financial and legal due diligence on two separate businesses, and commercial and legal negotiations on three simultaneous transactions – BGF’s £5m investment into Apprentify Group for a 25% equity stake, OakNorth’s £5m debt funding into Apprentify Group, and Apprentify Group’s acquisition of Netcom Training.