A Cambridge-based provider of English language training for international students is being courted by an Oxford-headquartered rival in a deal potentially worth up to £200m.
Sky News has learnt that Oxford International Education Group (OIEG) is one of three bidders vying to gain control of Cambridge Education Group (OIEG), a private equity-backed business established more than 70 years ago.
City sources said that OIEG was bidding against Investcorp, the Bahrain-based private equity firm, and Vanta, an American investor.
An auction of CEG, which has been owned by Bridgepoint, the London-listed private equity group since 2013, has been under way for months.
It is being overseen by bankers at Macquarie.
CEG comprises two divisions, one of which is focused on foundation programmes and English language training, and the other which helps universities to deliver online or hybrid courses to students.
One banker said that OIEG was likely to possess an advantage in the sale process because it would be able to extract cost synergies, unlike its rival bidders.
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A tie-up between the Oxbridge education providers would create a market leading business in the international private education sector, the banker said.
The value of CEG in any transaction is expected to be between £150m and £200m.
Bridgepoint declined to comment on Friday.