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GE Invests in Leading Distance Learning Provider


NORWALK, Conn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--GE Commercial Finance – Media, Communications & Entertainment (formerly Global Media & Communications) today announced it is the administrative agent and sole lender of a $30 million credit facility for Penn Foster, a portfolio company of the Wicks Group of Companies LLC, to support their acquisition of Education Direct, Inc. and Thompson Education Direct, Ltd. The GE business will also take an equity position by contributing $0.5 million to Penn Foster. The transaction closed on March 27.

Based in Scranton, Penn., Penn Foster is one of the largest and oldest distance education providers offering career diplomas, associate degrees and high school diplomas. The flexibility, convenience, and affordable nature of distance education has made it an attractive vehicle transforming the way professionals and students learn the skills critical to meeting new challenges. The distance education products and services market will reach $38.1 billion by 2011 according to a recent industry report.

“We have had a positive working experience with GE on several key deals,” said Dan Black, partner, Wicks Group. “The GE team provides flexible financing structures that allow us to grow our businesses organically and by acquisition.”

"As demand for distance education continues to grow, private equity investors are becoming increasingly interested in this sector, giving us the opportunity to demonstrate our knowledge and capabilities to help them meet demand,” said David Harrington, senior vice president, GE – Media, Communications & Entertainment. “The experience we gained in working with the Wicks Group on prior transactions allowed us to develop a flexible financing solution.”

Prior to this transaction, GE has worked with the Wicks Group on various deals, including Delta Education, Wicks Sports Information, owner of the Daily Racing Form, Heartland Publications and Wilks Broadcasting.


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