Adviser to the BIMM management team through the exit of Sovereign Capital Partners.

The deal

Our Corporate Finance team has advised the management team of education provider BIMM through the exit of Private Equity investor Sovereign Capital Partners following a highly successful ten-year partnership culminating in the sale to funds managed by ICG plc, the global alternative asset manager.

The BIMM Group is the largest and leading provider of creative arts education in Europe and has been backed by buy and build specialist Sovereign Capital Partners since 2010.

When Sovereign Capital Partners first invested in BIMM the Group had 1,150 students in colleges in Brighton and Bristol. Today the Group has 12 colleges across Europe – including London, Dublin, Birmingham, Manchester, Berlin and Hamburg – established through five strategic acquisitions and five new campus roll-outs, and has over 8,200 students. Well known alumni include Ella Mai, George Ezra, Mercy Sotire and James Bay; Roger Daltrey, BIMM’s Patron.

As part of strategic diversification, BIMM moved into the broader creative arts education market with the acquisition of the Institute for Contemporary Theatre in Brighton in 2017. This was swiftly followed with acquisitions including Performers College, consolidating BIMM as a hub for its three creative arts areas: Music, Performing Arts and Film Making. Earlier this year the prestigious Northern Ballet School was acquired and is the location for BIMM’s Institute for Contemporary Theatre Manchester campus which launched in September.

The team have had a long-standing relationship with the BIMM Group and Sovereign Capital Partners and have advised them through a number of transactions and capital raising projects over their investment term. On this latest project the team advised the management team through the exit of Sovereign Capital Partners and their rollover reinvestment in the new structure, as well as the terms of the new management equity incentive. The team worked alongside Doug MacLeod from DSA (Tax) and Keith Syson from Stevens & Bolton (Legal) to close this transaction.

Adam Carswell, Chief Executive, BIMM said, “This has been an incredible journey with Sovereign. Everyone at BIMM has always been passionate about bringing a high-quality education offering to students who want to learn the skills that are most relevant to provide them with the best possible chance of a successful career in the creative industries, following their dreams and career ambitions. The attractiveness of our offering to students has been constant and with Sovereign’s continued investment and strategic support, we have been able to achieve more than we had ever envisaged. It’s been an amazing 10 years for BIMM and I have been privileged to work with our incredibly talented lecturers, our staff and my board colleagues, as well as the team at Sovereign. I very much look forward to leading BIMM’s continued success and growth.”

James Dargan, Investment Director, Sovereign said, “The BIMM team are both passionately creative and commercially strong. It has been tremendous to work with them to support both the follow-on acquisitions and the roll-out of new colleges. The arts and culture industry contributes around £11 billion a year to the UK economy; this is a very attractive market to graduate into and the students value the vocational nature of the courses BIMM is recognised for. I am sure the Group will continue to go from strength to strength.”

“It was great to team up with the team again to advise us throughout the deal. They have built a strong rapport with management over the years and we were able to use them as a sounding board for their advice during the process. The team’s knowledge of the business was also beneficial in terms of resolving any issues.” Adam Carswell, Chief Executive, BIMM.

“As always, it was a pleasure to work with the team, who worked hard to achieve a great outcome for the management team who have been instrumental in the growth and success of BIMM.” James Dargan, Investment Director, Sovereign Capital Partners.

“We are very proud to have had the opportunity to work with an excellent management team to create a clear market leader in UK creative arts higher education. We have invested in BIMM over the years to support transformational growth and to help ensure that quality has remained front and centre. The talent that has blossomed under the care of the BIMM staff is extraordinary. It’s been a real privilege to have played a part in BIMM’s story and we wish the Group every continued success.” Andrew Hayden, Chairman, Sovereign Capital Partners.

“We have known the BIMM team for many years and it has been a privilege to follow their personal journey alongside that of the business. It is a great success story, but given the quality and passion of this team, we are not surprised! We wish them well in the future with ICG and have no doubt that it will continue on a similar trajectory.” Simon Davies.

Deal summary


November 2020



Deal type:

Management advisory

Deal size:


As always, it was a pleasure to work with the team, who worked hard to achieve a great outcome for the management team who have been instrumental in the growth and success of BIMM. James Dargan Investment Director at Sovereign Capital Partners

Related team

Simon Davies

Simon Davies

  • Partner
  • Corporate Finance
  • Reading, London West End