Blackstone and CPPIB to buy US educational software firm Ascend Learning

US private equity firm Blackstone Group and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) yesterday struck a deal to buy privately-held educational software company Ascend Learning LLC.

Ascend Learning's owners, private equity firm Providence and Canada's largest single-profession pension plan, Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan, had in November 2016 hired investment banks Barclays and Bank of America to run the auction for Ascend.

Both Blackstone and CPPIB did not disclose the terms of the deal, but media reports said that the transaction was finalised at over $2 billion, including debt.

Ascend was formed in 2010 by Providence Equity after it merged companies it had earlier acquired, including nursing school testing company Assessment Technology Institute.

Based in Burlington, Massachusetts, Ascend provides technology-based educational, curriculum, and assessment solutions.

The company offers e-learning solutions that include pre-programs, during nursing school programs, post-graduation programs, and faculty nursing solutions; eLearning solutions in the areas of biological sciences, physical and social sciences, computing, math and engineering, EMS, fire, emergency care and safety, health sciences and professions, nursing, medicine and pharma, and vocational and trade.

"We are excited to work with Blackstone and CPPIB and know their partnership will be a tremendous asset for the next phase of our company's growth," said Greg Sebasky, CEO of Ascend Learning. "We're also grateful for the partnership we've had with Providence and Ontario Teachers' and the outstanding growth we've experienced working with them."

Peter Wilde, managing director at Providence said, "We have enjoyed a long and productive partnership during our ten-year investment in Ascend. Greg and the Ascend team have generated consistent growth while delivering strong outcomes to students and institutions."