UK headquartered Hotcourses, an online ‘marketplace’ for UK based adults looking to find educational courses at all levels, both online and offline, is set to be sold to independent private equity group Inflexion in a £35million deal, report Sky News and several other sources.
Hotcourses works by acquiring contracts with educational service providers to highlight and drive sign-ups and participation to their courses. Inflexion’s website states their aim is to seek out low to mid-range PE deals, specifically seeking UK headquartered businesses that they believe have the opportunity to expand internationally, which likely gives an indication of the direction Hotcourses will take should the deal go through.
A source close to the negotiations told Sky News, “It could still fall through. It’s not a done deal,” adding that any formal announcement is not expected to be made for a number of weeks.
Jeremy Hunt MP, a member of the UK Government currently serving as Health Secretary, set up Hotcourses with a business partner in 1996. It is estimated that Hunt’s share of the business, believed by Sky News and other reporting sources to be 49%, will add £17million to his bank balance, while there are reported to be a large number of minor shareholders.
Hunt is not currently on the board of directors of the company, stepping down in 2009, although his shareholding is believed to be the biggest.
Hunt’s spokesperson has refused to comment to any media outlet regarding the negotiations, although The Guardian reports his stake is held in “blind trust” – he has no involvement with the day to day running of the company and therefore highly unlikely to be involved with the deal.