German Equity Partners V (‘GEP V’ or the ‘Fund’), a fund managed by the independent German investment company ECM Equity Capital Management GmbH (‘ECM’), has acquired a majority stake in Ludwigsburg-based ACADEMY Holding AG (‘ACADEMY Group’ or the ‘Group’), the leading provider of invoicing, factoring, driving instructor training and franchise services in the German driving school market. With its three business units, the ACADEMY Group covers the entire value chain within the driving school market. The demand for professional services in the driving school market is continuously increasing and thus offers further growth potential for the Group. GEP V acquired the shares from a long-standing private investor. As part of the transaction, the management team comprised of board members Matthias and David Wimpff is taking a stake in the Group. Together with the long-standing management team and ECM, they will continue and expand the successful course of the ACADEMY Group. The parties have agreed not to disclose the purchase price or further details of the transaction.
‘One-stop shop’ for the driving school market
With the foundation of DATAPART Factoring GmbH (‘DATAPART’) in 1994, the cornerstone was laid for today’s ACADEMY Group. As the leading specialist in invoicing services and factoring for driving schools with an annual factoring volume of around €170 million, DATAPART forms the core of the Group. Around this offering, the Group has established a number of other services along the entire value chain in the driving school market in order to meet the need of driving schools for a ‘one-stop shop’. As such, DVPi – which operates facilities for driving instructor training in Frankfurt am Main and Hamburg – is another pillar of the Group. Under the umbrella brand ACADEMY, it also offers the largest franchise system for driving schools in Germany at over 300 locations. Thanks to its firm market presence and complementary range of services, the ACADEMY Group has established a market-leading position in the German driving school market and has long-standing customer relationships with driving instructors.
ECM is a partner for further dynamic growth
Increasing regulation, a shortage of driving instructors and significant demand pose growing challenges for driving school businesses. ACADEMY is the partner in the background and the specialist for billing, liquidity, administration, marketing and training of driving instructors. The Group’s portfolio of solutions provides driving schools with critical support in facilitating efficient operations and ongoing liquidity.
Matthias Wimpff, long-time board member and shareholder of ACADEMY Group, said: ‘Having ECM on board opens up new opportunities for us. We want to further increase our range of services and the added value for our clients and to grow with new clients. We are very happy to have ECM as a partner on our side for this undertaking. We are proud and grateful for our team and for the trust that our loyal clients have placed in us over the past 25 years.’
Florian Thelenberg, Partner at ECM, added: ‘We are looking forward to the upcoming journey together with ACADEMY and a highly entrepreneurial and competent management team. No one knows the specific market environment and customer needs in the German driving school market as comprehensively as ACADEMY’s management. We are impressed by the Group’s development to date and look forward to supporting the management team in further developing the ACADEMY Group and investing in product development and sales as well as the organisation.’
GEP V was advised on this transaction by Milbank (legal and structuring), Codex Partners (market due diligence), Ebner Stolz (finance and tax), Code & Co. (tech), Ashurst (regulatory) and Willis Towers Watson (insurance). Florian Thelenberg, Axel Eichmeyer, Max Thielemann and Benedikt Müller are responsible for the transaction at ECM. The sellers were advised on the transaction by UBS (M&A), Beisse & Rath (legal), Doberenz (process), Dr. Vaih & Partner (tax) and STARKE. LEGAL. (regulatory).
About ACADEMY Holding AG (‘ACADEMY’)
Headquartered in Ludwigsburg, the ACADEMY Group – with its three business units DATAPART, ACADEMY Fahrschulen and DVPi – is Germany’s leading service provider for the driving school market. DATAPART Factoring has been a proven partner for driving schools for over 25 years. It offers invoicing services and an industry-specific, customised factoring product that is independent of financial institutions. The ACADEMY franchise system – the largest association of independent driving schools in Germany – supports the success of driving schools through a tried-and-tested franchise concept. The driving instructor training centre DVPi, with locations in Frankfurt am Main and Hamburg, completes the Group’s service portfolio. DVPi offers a comprehensive range of training and education for professionals in the areas of driving education, road safety and traffic, transport and logistics. Today, the dynamically growing Group employs around 50 people.
On behalf of ECM:
Charles Barker Corporate Communications GmbH
Georg Schattney, Tel.: +49 (0)69 7940 9044