Riverside Bolsters Education And Training Specialization March 31, 2010
Global Private Equity Firm Adds Industry Veteran to Team
The Riverside Company has added a key member to its team to help the firm identify and grow investments in the education and training industry. Robert Bowen comes to Riverside with more than 40 years of experience, currently as Chairman of the Board at Scientific Learning Corporation after serving as CEO there. Bowen will work closely with Riverside’s global education and training team as Senior Advisor, helping to identify investment opportunities as well as providing support to existing investments in the sector.
“Bob is an education and training guru,” said Riverside Co-CEO Stewart Kohl. “Overnight, Riverside adds four decades of experience, wisdom, scars and relationships. Bob has run and grown large businesses and completed acquisitions with great success, but also started as a high school math teacher, coach and counselor. We are excited about Bob joining our dedicated finance and origination specialists as we build on a successful track record of 20 training and education investments. He significantly enhances our already strong intellectual and relationship resources, which complements our considerable financial capital.”
In addition to his work at Scientific Learning Corporation, Bowen has served as President of National Computer System (NCS) Education, an early technology-based business. Bowen helped the enterprise software business grow into a market leader serving more than 41,000 schools. After Pearson purchased NCS, Bowen stayed on and led Pearson’s K-12 Internet strategy.
After working as a high school teacher, Bowen’s career on the corporate side of the education industry began at McGraw-Hill, where he spent 16 years in a range of senior leadership positions in two different divisions and was recognized for setting records for growth and profitability. In his last job at McGraw-Hill, Bowen led seven operating businesses in education and training. His experience led to managing the educational business at Maxwell Communication Corporation, from which he helped form a joint venture via acquisition by McGraw-Hill.
“I was drawn to Riverside by several factors,” said Bowen. “Their global and broad focus is exciting, but I was also struck by the culture when I went to their recent annual investors’ conference. A lot of firms talk about values and a commitment to professional development, but it was clear from watching Riversiders interact, and having extensive discussions with them, that this is a company that lives and breathes its brand values. I can’t wait to get started.”
“Bob has a deep understanding of education and training,” said Béla Szigethy, Riverside Co-CEO. “His knowledge makes us even better buyers and better owners, which will ultimately translate into superior results for our investors.”
Riverside considers itself a generalist investor in the smaller end of the middle market, having completed 225 transactions in its 22-year history. The firm, however, has completed dozens of transactions in select industries building specialized approaches to industries such as education and training, healthcare and energy/cleantech.
Riverside Chief Operating Officer Pam Hendrickson says the specializations differentiate Riverside. “We do all kinds of deals, but being specialized and focused in select areas gives us a better understanding of transactions we are considering, as well as more credibility with management teams; this extra horsepower at the smaller end of the middle market separates us from the pack in areas with strong growth potential,” said Hendrickson.
Riverside has long been committed to building its expertise in education and training and is one of the more sophisticated investors in the space, having made 20 total investments in the segment, including 10 platforms. Learn more about Riverside’s approach to training and education by viewing this video. Riverside’s recent activity in education and training includes a March add-on to platform Media Source and the recent exit of ATI Enterprises, a for-profit career-training provider. After working for four years to help ATI greatly expand in size and scope while increasing overall revenues and EBITDA over 300% and 450%, respectively, Riverside sold the company for its largest gain ever.
The Riverside Company
The Riverside Company is a global private equity firm focused on acquiring leading small and medium-sized enterprises (with a value of up to $200 million) and partnering with strong management teams to enhance the success of its companies through acquisitions and organic growth. Since its founding in 1988, the firm has invested in 225 transactions with a total enterprise value of $5.0 billion/€4.2 billion. The investment portfolio in North America, Europe and Asia includes 70 companies with annual sales totaling $3.3 billion/€2.5 billion, EBITDA of $506 million/€384 million and more than 13,000 employees (June 2009). Riverside offers the resources to complete acquisitions smoothly - thanks to its more than $3.0 billion/€2.4 billion in assets under management, its more than 180 professionals in 18 offices (Atlanta, Brussels, Budapest, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Hong Kong, Los Angeles, Luxembourg, Madrid, Munich, New York, Prague, San Francisco, Seoul, Stockholm, Tokyo and Warsaw) and its longstanding relationships with partner lenders. According to Thomson Venture Economics, eight of Riverside’s nine mature funds rank in the top 25% of all funds (as of 30 June 2009). The firm’s investors include the world’s leading pension funds, endowments, funds of funds, insurance companies and banks