Daily News: March 28, 2012

Charlesbank Capital Buys Princeton Review Division

Charlesbank Capital Partners announced that it has signed an agreement to acquire the Higher Education Readiness division of The Princeton Review, Inc. The division has a leading share of test preparation books in the U.S. and is known for its in-person and online test preparation courses, delivered through a network of over 5,000 teachers and tutors. It also offers test preparation courses outside the U.S. and Canada through independent franchisees and publishes best-selling books on college admissions and related topics under the Princeton Review brand. The division will own and do business under the Princeton Review brand after the acquisition, and the seller’s career-focused education division will retain the Penn Foster brand.

Charlesbank is partnering in this investment with the existing management team, led by president Scott Kirkpatrick, and with Deborah Ellinger, who will be joining the Business as chair and CEO. Kirkpatrick commented that taking this division private will provide a tremendous boost for the business. “With today’s changing educational landscape, we embrace the responsibility to lead the industry to new instructional models and respond quickly to customer needs,” he said. “Charlesbank offers us the financial support to grow in an evolving market, and we see a terrific opportunity to reach more students and provide them with the most personalized and innovative solutions.”

Ellinger has extensive experience running successful consumer-oriented companies, as the former president of Restoration Hardware, CEO of Wellness Pet Food, and as a senior executive at CVS and Staples.

“The business commands a very loyal following and delivers outstanding customer value,” said Andrew Janower, managing director of Charlesbank. “We are delighted to back Deborah, Scott and the rest of this accomplished management team. With them, we see great opportunity to leverage the business’s compelling brand in existing markets and to expand it to new areas in the years ahead.”

The Princeton Review was founded in 1981 and is headquartered in Framingham, MA. It has been a pioneer and leader in helping students achieve their higher education goals for 30 years through college and graduate school test preparation and private tutoring.

Based in Boston and New York, Charlesbank Capital Partners is a middle-market private equity investment firm managing more than $2 billion of capital.