16 April 2009
Pearson, the international education and information company, has bought Wall Street English, China's leading provider of premium English language training to adults, for $145m in cash.
Wall Street English was owned by Wall Street Institute, which is majority-owned by global private equity firm The Carlyle Group. Launched in 2000, it teaches approximately 35,000 students at 39 company-owned training centers in seven cities including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen. It provides English language instruction and practice to university students and professionals, paid for either by the individual or their employer, through a blend of computer-based learning and face-to-face tutorials. According to Pearson, it has achieved compound annual revenue growth of more than 40% over the last three years, and expects to generate approximately $70m in sales this year.
Pearson entered the English language training market in China in 2008 through the acquisitions of Learning Education Center and Dellenglish, which focus on school and college-aged students as well as adults. There are now 27 Pearson-owned training centers in Beijing and Shanghai, operating under the Longman Schools brand and drawing on Pearson's global English language training materials and digital learning programmes.
The combination of Longman Schools and Wall Street English gives Pearson a leading position in the English language teaching market in China, serving students from elementary school to professional levels. It makes Pearson China's second-largest private language training company by revenues, based on Pearson estimates, and takes Pearson's annual education sales in China (excluding Hong Kong) to more than $100m.
Pearson expects English language teaching in China to remain a good growth market, despite the global economic downturn, driven by powerful trends including the growth and globalisation of the Chinese economy, high levels of private spending on education and the importance of English language skills to careers and earning prospects.
Pearson intends to combine Longman Schools and Wall Street English into one business with shared marketing, advertising, customer support, technology and back office services. It will integrate Pearson's content, assessment and technology into the Wall Street English instructional process, and retain the Wall Street English brand, which has high recognition and a strong reputation in its key markets. Pearson also plans to open new Wall Street English training centers in additional cities across China, and to use the Wall Street English network and capabilities as a platform for expanding Pearson's wider professional education businesses.