Blackstone and CPPIB team up to buy Ascend Learning

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By Ted Liu

Blackstone (NYSE: BX) and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) have signed a definitive agreement to acquire Ascend Learning, LLC from Providence Equity Partners and Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan (OTPP).

Financial terms were not disclosed. The purchase price is reportedly to be over US $2 billion, including assumption of debt.

This transaction is Blackstone’s second investment as part of its core private equity strategy, which is specifically designed to hold private equity investments in exceptionally high-quality companies for longer periods of time than traditional private equity funds.

Ascend Learning provides technology-based educational content and software tools for students, educational institutions and employers. The company’s products span the full learning continuum and include admissions testing, educational content, test preparation, professional certifications and continuing education. Ascend has a particular focus on high-growth healthcare and other licensure-driven occupations.

Barclays acted as lead financial advisor to Ascend and Providence Equity Partners on the transaction, and Bank of America served as co-advisor. Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP acted as legal advisor to Ascend and Providence Equity Partners.

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP acted as legal advisor to Blackstone and CPPIB. Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP acted as legal advisor to Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan.