Wednesday 26 October 2016

Lioncourt acquires English language school ECM College

Paul O'Donoghue

Published 05/01/2016 | 02:30

The ECM College in Dublin city centre, and inset, Michael Tunney.
The ECM College in Dublin city centre, and inset, Michael Tunney.
Michael Tunney

Irish investment firm Lioncourt Capital, which was founded by well-known businessmen Michael Tunney and David Andrews, has acquired Dublin English-language school ECM College.

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Lionscourt said that the deal, carried out through its investment company the Real Experience Group, represents an investment of "over €1m".

It marks Lionscourt's first move into Ireland's English language education sector. The transaction was carried out with its minority shareholder Ion Equity.

ECM College was founded in 2010 by brothers Eddie, Patrick and Ciaran O'Loughlin. It is one of Ireland's leading accredited providers of English language courses.

Its turnover increased from €200,000 in 2010 to €2.5m in 2015. The college catered for 1,200 students from Europe, Central America, South America and South Korea last year.

Eddie O'Loughlin will continue as managing director under the new structure as part of The Real Experience Group, while Patrick and Ciaran O'Loughlin are launching a new property venture in 2016. The 60 people currently employed by ECM will also continue in their roles.

The deal adds another brand to the portfolio of the Real Experience Group. Its other brands include USIT, which is best known for its involvement in the US J1 visa programme, and Budget School and Group Tours.

The group has a turnover of €33m, which it aims to more than double to €80m over the next five years. CEO Karen Smith-Watson said the company will continue to expand the language sector of our business with further acquisitions and developments planned for Ireland, UK and the US.

The deal also adds to the investment portfolio of Lioncourt. Its portfolio also includes Valeo Foods, Lioncourt Homes and Beechfield Nursing Home Group.

Mr Andrews and Mr Tunney, both of whom have held a variety of prominent financial positions, founded Lioncourt in 1998. Mr Andrews was previously head of group development with Bank of Ireland and Dublin-based insurance brokerage Woodchester Investments. Mr Tunney was managing director of Woodchester Investment Bank and also several senior positions at AIB.

Irish Independent

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