OnCourse Learning to be acquired for reported $500 million

Brookfield professional webinar firm to join Bertelsmann

Patrick Sheahan
Patrick Sheahan, president and CEO of OnCourse Learning.

Brookfield-based professional training webinar provider OnCourse Learning is set to be acquired by German company Bertelsmann for a reported $500 million. The transaction is expected to close this fall, pending regulatory approval.

OnCourse was sold by New York private equity firm CIP Capital, which acquired the company in 2014 from Cleveland private equity firm The Riverside Co. The transaction was described by Bertelsmann as “in the mid-nine-digit euro range.” Reuters pegged the deal at around $500 million.

OnCourse was ranked at 2950 on the 2018 Inc. 5000 list of the fastest-growing firms in the country, up from 3429 on the 2017 list.

The company, which was founded in 2007, has grown steadily via acquisition. In January, it announced the acquisition of Lake Geneva-based Wound Care Education Institute Inc., and in August, it announced the acquisition of Waunakee-based Total Training Solutions. It now has about 375 employees and an online library of around 22,000 courses used for corporate and advanced training in the health care, financial services and real estate sectors. About 750,000 people and 19,000 businesses use OnCourse each year.

Bertelsmann is a global media, services and education company. It took a 75 percent ownership stake in Penguin Random House last year, and also owns online education provider Relias and magazine publisher Gruner + Jahr. Bertelsmann has 119,000 employees and reported $20.1 billion in 2017 revenue.

The acquisition of OnCourse expands Bertelsmann’s U.S. reach. The company plans to combine OnCourse’s health care division with its Relias subsidiary, which also provides online health care education. OnCourse’s financial services and real estate offerings “will be continued as a separate business in the future,” the announcement says.

“The acquisition of OnCourse Learning is an important strategic step for Bertelsmann in several respects,” said Thomas Rabe, chairman and chief executive officer of Bertelsmann, in a statement. “We are expanding our education business to include a company with considerable growth potential. At the same time, the transaction will further strengthen our presence in the U.S., where we already generate more than 20 percent of our revenues. In the future, we expect this share to rise to around 30 percent.”

Representatives of OnCourse Learning could not be reached for comment on the transaction.

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Molly Dill, former BizTimes Milwaukee managing editor.

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