EMPG in $125m joint venture with Dubai government


BARRY O'CALLAGHAN'S Education Media and Publishing Group (EMPG) is entering into a $125 million (€94 million) venture with the government of Dubai to target the educational publishing sector in high-growth developing markets.

EMPG International (EMPGI) will be 66.7 per cent owned by EMPG and 33.3 per cent owned by Istithmar World Capital, the alternative investment arm of Dubai World, which is owned by the government of Dubai.

EMPG publishes textbooks, instructional technology, assessments and educational materials for elementary and secondary schools and colleges.

"EMPGI will address the fastest-growing economies globally," a spokeswoman said.

"Existing operating businesses in China, India and Saudi Arabia will form part of EMPGI's initial portfolio and the company will seek to develop new opportunities across Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, North Africa and emerging Europe."

The spokeswoman said the $125 million that was being put into the new venture was "an initial equity commitment".

EMPG is the owner of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, a leading educational publisher in the US. One out of every two schoolchildren in the US uses its textbooks or materials.

EMPG and EMPGI are Cayman Island-registered companies.

Crispin Osborne is to take on the role of EMPGI chief executive, coming to the company from the financial services sector, where he held senior investment banking positions with Credit Suisse and Citigroup.

During his banking career, Mr Osborne worked closely with Mr O'Callaghan as a client.

Commenting on the formation of EMPGI, Mr O'Callaghan, chairman of EMPG and EMPGI, said: "EMPGI provides the platform to expand our operations significantly in the international markets in the coming years and to truly globalise our business."

He added: "EMPGI will bring world-class education solutions and expertise to its markets, helping to deliver educational reform and enhance the educational experience."

EMPG was formed in 2006 as a result of the $5.4 billion merger between Irish e-learning company Riverdeep and leading US educational publisher Houghton Mifflin.

In July 2007, EMPG announced the $4 billion acquisition of Harcourt Education, forming Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, the largest provider of instructional materials and solutions to the school-age sector in the US.

EMPG is the sole owner of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, which has revenues in excess of $2.5 billion.

Istithmar World Capital has $6 billion worth of assets under management.

It has a portfolio of investments in companies around the globe in sectors ranging from consumer to industrial to financial services.