Belfast Telegraph

IT firm which trains House of Commons staff, secures a multi-million pound deal

By Joanne Sweeney

A Londonderry tech firm which supplies IT training to the House of Commons has received the first ever multi-million pound cash injection from an Irish investment fund.

Learning Pool now hopes that the investment will help attract new overseas customers as it extends its range of e-learning products.

And it says that up to 10 new jobs are likely to be created later this year as a result.

Private equity fund Carlyle Cardinal Ireland (CCI) now has a stake in the firm, co-founded by managing director Paul McElvaney in 2006.

The deal was hammered out over the last four months and is thought to be worth seven figures.

Neither party would disclose the financial terms of the investment, announced yesterday.

The group’s equity investments normally range between $5m (£3.4m) and $50m (£34m).

CCI is made up of partners, the US-based The Carlyle Group and the Irish Cardinal Capital Group.

They have said that they are looking for further investment opportunities in Northern Ireland in the future.

But Mr McElvaney said he was delighted CCI bought a stake in Learning Pool as its first foray into the market here.

“We are a 10-year overnight success,” he said.

“We are a tech firm that helps organisations train its staff more efficiently and cost-effectively with our e-learning programmes.

“This investment is very much the next logical step for us. To have such professional investors around the board table will give us the strategic focus that will serve the business well into the future.”

Mr McElvaney added that his firm had doubled its turnover over the last three years.

“This investment will fast track our growth and allows us to build out our technology and content at a quicker pace for our customers’ benefit,” he said.

Jonathan Cosgrave, managing director of The Carlyle Group, said: “Learning Pool is well positioned to continue growing its share of the estimated £675m UK e-learning market.

“We continue to look at other potential investments in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.”

Cardinal’s managing director John Dolan indicated that the future was bright for Learning Pool as the e-learning market is growing by 10% each year.

“Learning Pool is ideally placed to meet this demand with their online offering and training catalogues which companies can customise as they require,” he said.

Jonathan Cosgrave and John Dolan will now join Mr McElvaney on Learning Pool’s board of directors.

Learning Pool employs 80 staff who help support a community of 1.25 million learners across 350 companies and government bodies who use its products and services to meet compliance requirements.

Customers include Jury’s Inn, British Sugar, the NHS and Four Seasons Healthcare.

Last year, another home-grown Londonderry software firm was taken over in a deal worth almost £27m.

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