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Horizon Capital backs buyout of education software and services provider Juniper Education

Horizon Capital, a specialist technology and tech-enhanced business investor, has made an investment in education software and services firm Juniper Education.  

Horizon has made a GBP20 million equity commitment from the Horizon 2018 fund of which over half is reserved for future acquisitions. This is the second buy-and-build platform investment by Horizon this year and follows on from the group’s investment in software and data analytics business STRAT7 in March.  Horizon has completed nine add-on acquisitions for its portfolio companies so far this year.
Horizon is supporting Juniper Education’s Executive Chairman Gavin Freed, together with the wider management team to develop the business through a strategy of organic and acquisitive growth. The group has acquired EES for Schools which comprises Target Tracker software and a range of professional services from Essex County Council for an undisclosed sum.  This is the first in a series of planned acquisitions for Juniper.
Juniper’s strategy is to consolidate the large and fragmented market for software and services provision to primary and secondary schools in the UK.  The business has two divisions: one focussed on software provision and the other on services including HR, finance and professional development.
Alongside Gavin Freed the new Juniper Board comprises Finance Director Mike Bibby, former Tribal CEO Peter Martin and James Randall as Non-Executive Directors and Horizon Managing Partner Simon Hitchcock.  The group’s new executive team includes Operations Director Keren Prior and Sales & Marketing Director Jason Oster.
Debt to support the acquisition was provided by Clydesdale Bank plc which has also committed further facilities for follow-on acquisitions.
Horizon was advised on the transaction by Pinsent Masons (Legal), Deloitte (Tax, Pensions), Forward Corporate Finance (Financial), Clearwater (Debt Advisory), RSM (Financial Diligence) and CJK Associates (Commercial Diligence). Womble Bond Dickinson provided advice to Management.

“We are pleased to have Horizon’s backing,” says Gavin Freed Juniper Executive Chairman. “This is an exciting time in UK education with a clear opportunity to consolidate software and services to reduce workloads and simply enable teachers to teach. The Horizon team’s track record in scaling software and service businesses and supporting buy-and-builds aligns well with our strategy for Juniper”.  
Simon Hitchcock Horizon Managing Partner who led the transaction, asys: “We are delighted to be supporting Gavin and the wider team in consolidating this fragmented and attractive market.  The Juniper business fits exactly into Horizon’s sweet spot: a must-have service with strong recurring revenues and a market consolidation opportunity. We look forward to working with the team to build a scaled provider over the coming years”
Juniper becomes part of Horizon’s successful portfolio of companies which combine software with service delivery. Both organically and through acquisition, Horizon has scaled property management firm Bellrock from GBP40 million to GBP130 million in revenues over the past five years and Digital Customer Contact group Sabio from GBP42 million to over GBP100 million in revenues within three years. Both companies have strong proprietary software underpinning their service proposition.

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