BC Partners to take chunky stake in Springer Nature deal

The buyout shop is making a €300m investment from its latest fund in the process, which values Springer Nature at about $7bn.

BC Partners is taking a significant stake in its own single-asset deal, Secondaries Investor has learned.

The London-headquartered buyout shop is to invest €300 million in the continuation vehicle holding academic publisher Springer Nature, equivalent to roughly one-third of the likely size of the vehicle, according to three sources familiar with the matter.

The capital is expected to come from BC European Capital XI – the firm’s latest flagship fund which has been in market since February last year with an €8.5 billion target.

The move “is an endorsement of the continued potential upside and its conviction in the company”, said one of the sources, citing sector tailwinds such as the increasing digitisation of academic publishing.

The deal will be led by Neuberger Berman, which is investing €100 million, Secondaries Investor understands. It is priced at 90 percent of net asset value based on a 31 December valuation date, which values the company at around $7 billion.

Bloomberg reported last week that Neuberger was set to invest in the deal.

Secondaries Investor reported in December that BC Partners was working with advisor Evercore on ways to hold onto Springer Nature. The Anglo-German group generated revenues of $1.72 billion in 2019, making it one of the world’s largest academic publishers.

Last October, Springer Nature postponed an initial public offering on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange due to the poor performance of recent listings, Reuters reported. The company had wanted to raise around €1 billion.

The company is held in the 2011-vintage BC European Capital IX, which raised €6.69 billion, according to PEI data. Investors that have committed to Fund IX, either on a primary or secondary basis, include Aberdeen Standard Investments, Ardian and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System.

Nearly 25 percent of respondents to a survey by advisor Campbell Lutyens said that more than one quarter of the GP-led transactions they completed last year included an investment from the sponsor’s latest flagship fund.

“If the secondary investment goes poorly and has the potential to negatively impact the GP’s flagship fund return, it’s a pretty powerful alignment tool,” said partner Gerald Cooper.

BC Partners and Evercore declined to comment. Neuberger Berman did not return a request for comment.