German Conglomerate Buys OnCourse Learning in Reported $500M Deal

Bertelsmann, a large media and publishing conglomerate headquartered in Germany, said Monday that it has acquired OnCourse Learning, a Brookfield, WI-based provider of online professional training programs.

Bertelsmann said Monday in a news release that the amount it’s acquiring OnCouse for is in the “mid-nine-digit euro range,” meaning roughly halfway between €100 million and €1 billion. According to a Reuters report, the deal is worth about $500 million (the equivalent of nearly €428 million, using current exchange rates).

Bertelsmann said it expects the deal, which still needs to be approved by U.S. regulators, to close this fall.

OnCourse develops training courses for organizations in industries such as healthcare, financial services, and real estate. The company has an online library of more than 20,000 courses, and about 750,000 people use OnCourse’s products each year, Bertelsmann said.

OnCourse was founded in 2007 and currently has about 375 employees, according to the release. The company was previously owned by CIP Capital, a New York-based private equity firm. CIP Capital acquired OnCourse in 2014 for an undisclosed sum.

“The transaction will further strengthen our presence in the U.S., where we already generate more than 20 percent of our revenues,” Bertelsmann chairman and CEO Thomas Rabe said in the release.

Bertelsmann holds a full or majority stake in a handful of businesses, including the publisher Penguin Random House and RTL Group, a digital media company with a large footprint in Europe.

Within the learning and employee education sector, Bertelsmann’s subsidiaries include Relias, a Cary, NC-based company Bertelsmann acquired in 2014. It said at the time that the amount it paid for Relias, which focuses on creating educational modules for healthcare workers, was valued in the “mid-hundreds of millions” of U.S. dollars.

Bertelsmann said that if its purchase of OnCourse is approved, as expected, Relias will take control of OnCourse’s healthcare division.

“OnCourse brings over 500 hospital clients and world-class nursing solutions, including the nurse.com website,” Relias CEO Jim Triandiflou said in the release.

Outside of its healthcare division, the rest of OnCourse’s educational catalog will continue to be sold under the company’s own name and brand, rather than Bertelsmann’s, the German conglomerate said in the release.

Jeff Buchanan is the editor of Xconomy Wisconsin. Email: jbuchanan@xconomy.com Follow @_jeffbuchanan

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