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Columbia training firm GP Strategies to be acquired for $394 million

GP Strategies Corp., a workforce training firm based in Columbia, has agreed to be acquired by the English company Learning Technologies Group, which provides similar services, for $394 million, the companies announced Thursday.

GP Strategies’ stockholders will receive $20.85 cash for each of their shares, a premium of 32% over Wednesday’s closing price of $15.76 a share.

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The combination of the companies, they said, will create one of the world’s largest firms providing training, consulting and business improvement services to organizations and their employees, and give GP Strategies access to a larger global client base.

“This transaction represents a tremendous opportunity for our customers and our talented employees to work with the global leader in workplace talent and learning, while providing our shareholders with a meaningful premium to our existing stock price,” GP Strategies CEO Adam Stedham said.

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GP Strategies will retain its identity, becoming a division of Learning Technologies Group when the deal closes, which is expected in the fourth quarter after it’s approved by shareholders and regulators. GP Strategies’ largest shareholder, Sagard Capital Partners Management, has entered into an agreement to vote its shares in favor of the deal.

GP Strategies’ stock price surged almost 27% after the deal was announced Thursday to close at $19.95 a share. After the deal closes, GP Strategies’ stock will no longer be listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

Learning Technologies Group CEO Jonathan Satchell said the company has long admired GP Strategies and has been inquiring about a merger for several years.

GP Strategies employs about 4,500 people split between the United States and overseas, including several hundred at its Columbia headquarters, which will remain as it becomes a division of Learning Technologies. GP Strategies has reported about $500 million in revenue in each of the last five years, though revenue fell in 2020 to $473 million, down from $583 million in 2019, largely due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

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GP Strategies was known as General Physics Corp. until 1998 and got its start providing training and technical services to the U.S. Navy’s submarine nuclear power program, but expanded into such services for other government entities as well as the environmental, energy and information technology industries.

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