As was first revealed on RollOnFriday last September, the College of Law has finally finished its "strategic review" and has been sold, lock stock and LPC manual, to Montagu Private Equity. The fund has paid £200 million for the College, the proceeds to be paid into a newly-founded Legal Education Foundation which will then hand the cash back to students as scholarships, bursaries and grants.

One of the worst-kept secrets within the legal market was put to bed as the normally unresponsive institution proudly trumpeted the signing of the deal (or at least binding heads of terms) with Montagu, which already owns, inter alia, Quorn and Auto Windscreens. There are still regulatory hurdles to be jumped, presumably related to the CoL's charitable status, but it would be an unwise PE buyer prepared to go public without such consents being mere formalities.

    The College of Law: 50 years old, and just one careful previous owner

The Legal Education Foundation seems a clever way of dealing with the proceeds of the sale, and it's to be hoped that the pot of cash genuinely assists worthy wannabe lawyers (and isn't spent on make-up lessons for staff). For Montagu, the real prizes are the rather less charitable arms of the institution's activities; degree awarding powers, flogging courses to unwary students and lucrative exclusive deals with major law firms. CoL Chief Exec Prof Savage spoke of his excitement about the chance to sign up students all over the world, so expect College of Law Beijing, Mumbai, Rio, Seoul and Sydney soon.

There are important questions remaining to be asked, including:
  • What will Nigel "£440k" Savage's management equity package look like? And what of the remainder of the superannuated management board?
  • What will happen to the College's major property portfolio (worth, according to the institution's 2010 accounts, £65 million)
  • How will Montagu exit the deal in the traditional PE 5-10 year investment window?

The College stressed continuity of service to its students, so LPC-ers should continue to expect exam screwups, mice in the kitchens, relentless hunting of defaulting students and - in classic private equity style - another round of redundancies.

Tip Off ROF


Anonymous 26 April 12 22:32

I work for the College. We are now having meetings to be told about the sale. Very matter of factly, without one atom of apology, we are told that many of our pension rights are being taken away. And guess who gets the benefit of these cuts. The greed of Savage and his cronies is breathtaking. It is matched only by the brazenness of his "strategic review", the sole aim of which is to take the assets of a charity and use them to line his own pockets.

When schoolteachers' pensions are taken away, they go on strike. We need to do the same.

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