It is official, CVC Capital Partners has signed the agreement to acquire the entire Wversity group from its founder Danilo Iervolino (see the press release here).
In detail, CVC will buy 100% of Wversity srl, the holding with which Iervolino owns 100% of Multiversity spa, which owns 50% of Multiversity srl (Pegaso Telematic University and Mercatorum University) and 100% (half owned by the srl and half by the spa) of the provider of the international certification programs of digital skills Certipass.
The operation had been anticipated in recent days by Il Sole Ore (see here a previous article by BeBeez), but the latest news is that at the head of the group CVC called in the role of ceo Fabio Vaccarono, who is leaving his position as vice president of Google and managing director of Google Italy. Mr. Vaccarono will co-invest in the operation.
Vaccarono, 50, began his career at Bain & Company and previously held positions as ceo and general manager, in the L’Espresso – Manzoni Publishing Group, in the Sole 24 Ore Group and in RCS Mediagroup and was ceo of Starcom Mediavest, a Publicis Groupe company. The manager was already a member of the Pegaso Board of Directors and currently also sits on the Boards of the Sole 24 Ore Group, AmCham Italy, the Advisory Board of the Veneranda Fabbrica del Duomo di Milano, the Scientific Committee of the Mattei Foundation, the Giunta Assonime and digital board of energy group Sorgenia. Last June, finally, the Gellify innovation platform announced that starting Q3 2021 Mr. Vaccarono would join its Board of Directors (see the press release here). The manager had joined Google in 2012.
Mr. Iervolino, who founded the Pegaso telematic university in 2006, will remain on the board of directors of the company with the role of chairman.
No details were disclosed on the terms of the transaction, however when CVC Capital Partners had acquired a first half of Multiversity’s capital in August 2019, there was talks of a valuation of one billion euros on the market for the entire group (see here a previous article by BeBeez). At the end of 2019, the shareholders’ equity of Multiversity spa was approximately 537 million euros (see the Leanus report here, after registering for free). While, according to official documents, the 50% stake in Multiversity srl was acquired by CVC’s Luxembourg vehicle, Paganini Investments sarl, for 225 million euros.
Pegaso and Mercatorum are today the largest online university in Italy with more than 70 exam centers and a base of around 40,000 university students and 40,000 post-graduate students served through a proprietary digital platform. Mercatorum in particular was born from the agreement signed by Unioncamere with Pegaso to develop an online university of the chamber system. It was the first public-private partnership for the governance of a university institution.
It is not clear whether the scope of the transaction will concern all the subsidiaries of Multiversity spa. In fact, the sub-holding also holds 100% of Garage Startup srl, the vehicle through which Mr. Iervolino in March 2017 had subscribed 1.9 million euros out of 4.99 million of the capital increase of the Milan-listed business incubator Digital Magics, acquiring 7.16% of the capital (see here a previous article by BeBeez). The announcement of that operation was made in December 2016 and at the same time Multiversity had signed a ten-year agreement with Digital Magics to build the Digital Magics Startup University, the most important Italian center for telematic training for all aspiring new leaders of innovative companies (see here a previous article by BeBeez). To date, Garage Startup owns 6.15% of Digital Magics and 100% of Lab46 srl, a coworking space, incubator and accelerator for startuppers in the South of Italy, inaugurated in Naples in May 2018, as a result of the agreement with Digital Magics Naples.
Garage Startup is also the same vehicle with which in June 2019 Mr. Iervolino bought 20% of Gambero Rosso spa, a well-known content company publishing magazines, guides and books about wine, cookery and travel. The seller was Milan-listed publishing group Class Editori (see here the press release at the time) and that stake is still in Garage Startup’s portfolio.