Paul Weiss and Sullivan lead as BPP owner Apollo goes private

Sullivan & Cromwell and Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison are leading on the sale of BPP University College owner Apollo Education to an investor consortium for $1.1bn (£760m).

The all-US team from Sullivan & Cromwell acting for Apollo Education was led by New York partners Frank Aquila and Melissa Sawyer.

Meanwhile, Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison represented the consortium of investors that included the Vistria Group, funds affiliated with Apollo Global Management and Najafi Companies. Its team was led by partners Brian Finnegan and John Scott in New York.

The transaction means Apollo Education Group will be taken private, having been a public company on the New York Stock Exchange since the end of 1994.

Apollo Education’s flagship school is the University Phoenix, but it added UK-based organisation BPP to its list of education and training providers in 2009.

The group announced at the start of this year that it was exploring strategic alternatives for the company and that it was in discussions about a sale.

Background to the deal 

Apollo Global is a subsidiary of Apollo Education and Sullivan & Cromwell has acted on multiple deals for the company in the past. The London office recently represented Apollo before it withdrew from its bid for Xchanging, while the firm was also involved in the acquisition of Brit Insurance in 2010.

BPP became the first privately owned company to receive degree-awarding powers in September 2007 – two years before it was acquired by Apollo Education. It is not the only law school to have passed through private equity hands, with Montagu Private Equity buying the University of Law in 2012.

Despite receiving university status in 2013, BPP’s transformation has not been straightforward. Its goal of becoming a university was reportedly put in jeopardy back in 2009, when its US parent Apollo Group was investigated by the SEC in connection with accounting irregularities. Three years later, Apollo was also warned by an American higher education watchdog that the University of Phoenix was likely to be breaching governance rules.