Milkens Sell U.S. Education Business


This story has been updated from a previous version.

L.A. billionaires Michael and Lowell Milken have struck a deal to sell their early-childhood education business, Knowledge Universe Education, to Swiss private equity firm Partners Group.

Terms of the KUE sale to Partners Group were not disclosed. The deal is expected to close later this year, according to a press release from Latham & Watkins, which represented the Milken’s Knowledge Universe in the transaction.

Knowledge Universe Education, or KUE, is based in Portland, Ore. and is among the many Knowledge Universe subsidiaries. It is the largest for-profit provider of early-childhood education in the United States, according to the company.

Partners Group reached out to Knowledge Universe’s shareholders about the acquisition, according to Geoffrey Moore, a spokesman for Michael Milken.

“After extensive due diligence, the shareholders concluded that the Partners Group shared a strong commitment to education and would be an excellent partner with the management and employees to continue the growth that has been led by (Chief Executive) Tom Wyatt over the last several years,” Moore said Tuesday in an e-mail to the Business Journal.

The KUE sale appears to follow a recent trend.

Last year, Knowledge Universe sold its early-childhood education business in Asia as well as its K-12 business in Asia “at a record price,” a spokeswoman for Lowell Milken told the Business Journal in April. Plus, she said, Knowledge Universe sold its early-childhood education business in the United Kingdom in 2013, which brought the Milkens a return of more than 50 percent.

In April, his spokeswoman said outside investors valued Knowledge Universe at $2.25 billion in 2007 and since then, the company “has realized substantial gains.” It is unclear how much the company is worth today.

Upon completion of the KUE deal, Knowledge Universe will only be left with real estate holdings and intellectual property assets, Lowell Milken said Monday in a statement to the Business Journal.

As recently as April, Knowledge Universe owned about 800 properties in the United States, many of which were leased to its early-childhood education operations. It is unclear which, if not all, assets the Milkens will maintain after the KUE sale closes.

Neither of the Milken brothers specified how they plan to reinvest the proceeds from the sale, but Lowell Milken said he likely won’t put the money back into education-related ventures.

“In the education space, I am focused now on propelling my nonprofit educational initiatives: The Milken Educator Awards, the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching, the Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes and the UCLA School of Law Lowell Milken Institute for Business Law and Policy,” he said.

Moore added that Michael Milken is likely to spread the proceeds between several ventures and charities.

“I can’t speak for the other shareholders, but Mike expects to use his proceeds for a combination of investment diversification and further expansion of the philanthropic initiatives he launched more than four decades ago,” Moore said.

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