Pearson acquires majority stake in South African education company

International publishing and education company Pearson recently announced that it has agreed to acquire a 75% stake in CTI Education Group of South Africa for £31 million (US$49 million) in cash.

According to a Pearson press release, CTI is one of South Africa‘s leading private higher education institutions with more than 9,000 students on 12 campuses, awarding degrees and diplomas to a growing market of full-time and part-time students in such subjects as business, information technology, law, psychology and counselling, graphic design and creative arts. The CTI group since 2006 has included partner Midrand Graduate Institute (MGI).

Pearson Southern Africa currently serves the school, higher education and vocational markets, providing learning materials, assessment, teacher training and other educational solutions through its companies in South Africa and 10 other countries in southern, central and east Africa. These include Maskew Miller Longman, Heinemann South Africa and the South African operations of Edexcel, Pearson’s international academic and vocational qualifications and assessment business.

“The CTI transaction will strengthen Pearson’s market-leading education company in southern Africa,” the company said.

“We are excited to bring our global resources to bear on the higher education sector in South Africa, to help meet a growing demand for high-quality, career-advancing higher education. We are deeply impressed by the quality of CTI’s business and the commitment of its management and staff to produce excellent outcomes for students, and we look forward to this new partnership with them,” said John Fallon, chief executive of Pearson’s International Education business.

“Pearson’s worldwide range of content, curriculum and digital tools will help CTI broaden its range of courses and degrees, and our marketing capacity will enable CTI to reach more students across the African continent,” he added.

About 15% of CTI first-year students already come from African countries other than South Africa, including Nigeria, Ghana and Zimbabwe. Pearson plans to recruit more students from throughout southern Africa to CTI’s South African campuses and also apply Pearson’s distance-learning model to educate students further afield through CTI.

The transaction is subject to regulatory approval and is expected to close in the first quarter of 2011. The agreement includes a provision under which Pearson may acquire the remaining 25% of CTI in three years’ time.

In addition to its education business, Pearson is also owner of the Financial Times newspaper and book publisher Penguin.