Sovereign Capital

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Education Industry badge.png This article is part of the Spinwatch privatisation of Schools Portal project.

Sovereign Capital is a UK private equity fund. It invests in companies in the following sectors: 'support services', healthcare, and education.

It was co-founded in 2011 by John Nash, ex-chairman of Care UK and current UK Education Minister.

Privatising education and reputational risk

A third of Sovereign Capital's investments are in the education and training sector.

‘For us, it has been a tremendous sector', Michael Needley, who leads Sovereign Capital's education team, told a room of investors at the 2015 EducationInvestor summit. 'I think we're in a very interesting time in how education is going to develop, who is going to be involved, and who is going to be a part of that,' he added.

Needley described the K12 market (Kindergarten to 12th Grade, or primary and secondary school) as a $34bn opportunity. 'My gosh that's lots for everybody,' he said. 'Let's all go forth. Let's all make hay.'

Needley identified online education as the big opportunity for investors. 'This is the silver bullet: who is going to crack the online market,' he said.

However, he also identified reputational risk to firms as the biggest concern. 'We're putting our head above the parapet,' he said, adding: 'There are people out there looking for it.' He said that they were taking 'a lot of our learnings' about how to handle reputation risk from the healthcare sector. Of the two sectors, healthcare was the first to be privatised.


Sovereign Capital's education investments include:

In August 2015, it offered to pay £18.4 million for UK teacher recruitment agency Synarbor.[1]

Other investments it has made include:

NHS service providers:

It reportedly made about £100 million from its involvement in the buying, reselling and consolidation of social care businesses.[2]



Lobbying firms


Website: Address: 25 Victoria St, Westminster, London SW1H 0EX


  1. Sovereign Capital offers £18.4m for Synarbor, EducationInvestor, 3 August 2015
  2. Unison, The rise of the “public services industry”,A report for UNISON by Paul Gosling, September 2008 pp.14, 20, 26.
  3. Register 1st September 2014 - 30th November 2014 APPC, accessed 28 January 2015