E-learning titans acquired by investment firm

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Two of the industry’s most prominent e-learning providers Videotel and Seagull have been taken under the umbrella of a global investment firm to work together as a combined group.  

Oakley Capital partnered with the management teams of SG MidCo AS (Seagull), and Videotel Marine Asia Limited and Super Dragon Limited (Videotel), to acquire majority stakes in the businesses from their current shareholders, Herkules Private Equity Fund IV, and KVH Industries, respectively. Oakley Capital has stated that the digital transformation taking place in the shipping industry, as well as the increasingly complex regulatory framework, offers a significant opportunity for e-learning providers. 

Managing partner of Oakley Capital, Peter Dubens, said that the company looked forward to supporting Seagull and Videotel in their plans to invest in new content and technology solutions based on the wealth of internal expertise, which can now be shared across the group. 

This news comes in the wake of KVH Industries announcing that it had sold the Videotel group of companies to Oakley Capital for a base purchase price of USD90 million.  

Martin Kits van Heyningen, chief executive officer of KVH, said, “As part of our long-term strategic road map, we’re focusing on the large and growing markets of our core mobile connectivity and inertial navigation businesses.”  

KVH intends to use the net proceeds of the sale to invest in “three key growth initiatives” that it expects will drive “significant value creations” and to reduce its debt.  

The company plans to invest in the development and commercialisation of its photonic integrated chip technology for use in autonomous vehicles and other commercial and military platforms. This will aid in accelerating its AgilePlans (Connectivity as a Service) programme, and also to finalise the development and launch of its internet of things connectivity solution.   

Videotel helped us to penetrate the commercial maritime markets initially, but our strategic approach has evolved to focus on faster growing markets that we believe will produce greater long-term shareholder value,” Heyningen said. 

Every year, e-learning titans Seagull and Videotel deliver more than 10,000 ships and installations with comprehensive and up-to-date compliance, risk, and safety training that ensures adherence to International Maritime Organization requirements. In 2018, the two companies collectively generated USD50 million of revenue.  

The official press release issued by Oakley Capital described how both parties will now be able to collaborate and share knowledge and resources. However, apart from an enhanced investment plan, there will be no immediate operational changes in either company.  

Morten Aasen, director sales and marketing at Seagull Maritime AS, confirmed this with SAS, “Seagull and Videotel will continue as two separate business units and there will be no change in the products or services offered from any of the companies. The management team will collaborate on how we can provide our customers with even better products and services. There is no plans that can be elaborated at this stage.” 

Oscar Johansen, chairman and founder of Seagull, will become president of the combined group. Roger Ringstad and Raal Harris will continue to lead Seagull and Videotel, respectively.