Cognita grew from just one school to become one of the largest K-12 school groups in the world. The sale of Cognita to Jacobs Holding in 2018 followed a remarkable journey of international growth. Learn more about Cognita and details of the deal below.
Cognita was established in 2004 when Edmund Lazarus and his team invested with the primary objective of building one of the best independent schools businesses in terms of education efficacy. This plan was to achieve leadership in quality and scale in the United Kingdom and then use this as a base to deliver world class education globally. The success was made possible by an outstanding management team and the leadership of the former UK Chief Inspector of Schools, Sir Chris Woodhead. Before any acquisitions were made, the team at EMK worked closely with Chris for more than a year to develop the right resources, team and pipeline of opportunities. Cognita is now a leading independent schools business in many countries including: Singapore, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Thailand, Spain, Chile and Brazil.
Through more than 45 acquisitions, organic growth, and greenfield developments, Cognita has achieved transformational growth. In 2013, Edmund Lazarus and EMK Capital sold a 50% share to KKR in 2013 to provide additional capital for Cognita to continue its rapid growth.
Edmund was determined both to achieve best value for Cognita’s owners and to provide Cognita with the right owner to support its huge further growth potential and commitment to educational efficacy. Jacobs Holdings with its depth of capital resources, commitment to invest in the sector and values fitted perfectly with these objectives.
Carefully coordinated discussions, including full participation of Cognita’s management team led by CEO Chris Jansen, allowed Jacobs to deliver a pre-emptive offer satisfactory to EMK and KKR in advance of a full sale process. This achieved a transaction with the least possible distraction of the Cognita management team from delivering inspiring education to the company’s students.