Fund tied to education raises $50 million in IPO

The Baltimore Sun

A Baltimore company formed to invest in the education industry raised $50 million yesterday in an initial public offering.

Camden Learning Corp. said it hopes to make an acquisition focusing on "early child care, K-12 or post-secondary education or corporate training and related businesses," according to documents filed last week with the Securities and Exchange Commission. But no deal is in the works, the company said in the SEC filing.

Camden Learning, backed by the Baltimore private equity firm Camden Partners, said it offered 6.25 million units for $8 a common share. Each share also included a warrant allowing investors to buy another share at $5.50 at a later date.

The company also netted an additional $2.8 million in an earlier private placement of warrants sold to a limited liability company owned by some of Camden Learning's officers and directors. The private placement warrants were priced at $1 each.

"It's an impressive amount of money to invest in the education space," said Thomas Toch, co-director of Education Sector, a Washington think tank. "It suggests that private equity investors and others see education once again as a potentially lucrative place to invest their money."

Camden Learning stock fell 3 cents to close at $7.97 yesterday on the OTC Bulletin Board.

David L. Warnock, who previously ran a venture capital arm for T. Rowe Price Group, is president, chairman and chief executive of Camden Learning. He founded Camden Partners in the mid-1990s. He could not be reached for comment yesterday.

The company's board of directors includes William L. Jews, the former CEO of CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield.

Camden Learning's IPO comes as investment in for-profit education, particularly in the areas of post-secondary online education and corporate-based child care, is picking up, said Toch.

Camden Learning has until Nov. 29, 2009, to carry out a transaction before it must liquidate and return the proceeds to shareholders, according to SEC filings.

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