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Sovereign exits its investment in BIMM – Europe’s leading provider of creative arts education

Sovereign Capital Partners, the UK private equity Buy & Build specialist, announces the realisation of its investment in education provider BIMM, the largest and leading provider of creative arts education in Europe through a sale to funds managed by ICG plc, the global alternative asset manager. The exit follows a highly successful ten-year partnership with BIMM.


When Sovereign first invested in BIMM the Group had 1,150 contemporary music students in colleges in Brighton and Bristol. Today, the Group has 12 colleges across Europe. These include London, Dublin, Birmingham, Manchester, Berlin and Hamburg, established through five strategic acquisitions and five new campus roll-outs and the Group now has over 8,200 students across the creative arts education areas of music, film and performing arts.

BIMM is renowned for its expertise in the tuition of contemporary music and as part of its strategic diversification, BIMM moved into the broader creative arts education market to include film and performing arts. This was achieved through the acquisitions of the Institute for Contemporary Theatre, based in Brighton in 2017, Performers College in 2019, and recently the acquisition of the prestigious Northern Ballet School which also became the location for BIMM's Institute of Contemporary Theatre Manchester campus.

The high quality and relevance of BIMM's specialist vocational education offering is reflected in the continued increase in student enrolments, its 83% graduate employment rate in Creative Arts, and being granted Taught Degree Awarding Powers in the UK, by Order of the Privy Council in March 2019 which further enhances the Group’s attraction to students. Well known alumni include Ella Mai, George Ezra, Mercy Sotire and James Bay and BIMM’s Patron is The Who’s, Roger Daltrey.

Adam Carswell, Chief Executive, BIMM said, ‘This has been an incredible journey with Sovereign. Everyone at BIMM has always been passionate about bringing a high-quality education offering to students who want to learn the skills that are most relevant to provide them with the best possible chance of a successful career in the creative industries, following their dreams and career ambitions. The attractiveness of our offering to students has been constant and with Sovereign’s continued investment and strategic support, we have been able to achieve more than we had ever envisaged. It’s been an amazing 10 years for BIMM and I have been privileged to work with our incredibly talented lecturers, our staff and my board colleagues, as well as the team at Sovereign. I very much look forward to leading BIMM’s continued success and growth.’

James Dargan, Investment Director, Sovereign said, ‘The BIMM team are both passionately creative and commercially strong. It has been tremendous to work with them to support both the follow-on acquisitions and the roll-out of new colleges. The arts and culture industry contributes around £11 billion a year to the UK economy; this is a very attractive market to graduate into and the students value the vocational nature of the courses BIMM is recognised for. I am sure the Group will continue to go from strength to strength.’

Andrew Hayden, Chairman, Sovereign added, ‘We are very proud to have had the opportunity to work with an excellent management team to create a clear market leader in creative arts higher education. We have invested in BIMM over the years to support transformational growth and to help ensure that quality has remained front and centre. The talent that has blossomed under the care of the BIMM staff is extraordinary. It’s been a real privilege to have played a part in BIMM’s story and we wish the Group every continued success.’