Catherine Lespine

With 22,000 students and 80,000 alumni, INSEEC U. is one of the leaders in higher education institutions in France. Boasting a strong network of French and International partners, they proudly form tomorrow’s world economic leaders. Based in Paris, Bordeaux, Lyon, Chambery, as well as London, Monaco, Geneva, Shanghai and San Francisco, INSEEC U. encompasses 12 colleges. The Group’s development is dedicated to the quest of excellence in, luxury, hospitality and “customer etiquette”, wine and spirits, and digital marketing-communication.


Sector: Services Investment date: 2013 Apax position: Majority Activity: MidMarket
Why did we invest?

Groupe INSEEC is a leading for-profit post-secondary education provider in France with several key strengths: agility and innovation in programme development, sound governance, cost efficiency, marketing skills, attractive and multi-site campuses, programme diversity and no dependency on subsidies.

Growing in volume and price, and ripe for consolidation, the for-profit higher education market is attractive and has strong market intrinsics: counter-cyclicality, barriers to entry, revenue visibility, no working capital needs, high profitability and high cash conversion.

How do we intend to create value?

The investment thesis consists in growing the existing core business by fostering further academic excellence, increasing the attractiveness of its schools and expanding market share through new programme offerings. Programmes are being internationalised and expanded to other countries through new campuses and exchange programmes.


The companys operated in school year 2017-2018 with a €220m budget and continued to implement its strategy to become the leading private education Group in France. In 2017, Group INSEEC regrouped all 16 schools under the new umbrella-brand INSEEC Universitas, known as INSEEC U., created unique multi-disciplinary campuses and launched digital transformation for a unique student experience.

Opening of a San Francisco campus


  • Inauguration of the Luxury Business Institute Shanghai
  • Development of an agreement for a dual-degree programme between Luxury Business Institute Seoul and the International University of Monaco.
  • Signature of three agreements in China with the Chinese Ministry of Culture, Jiao Tong University and Shanghai University of Sport.
  • Signature of numerous agreements in India with top-tier universities (Punjabi University), and in Europe, Thailand and Saudi Arabia, benefiting all of the Group’s programmes.

Transformative acquisition of the Laureate group, which consists of a professional development body (IFG) and four schools: two management schools, ESCE and EBS; ECE, an engineering school; and HEIP, a political science and international relations school.

Acquisition of the CREA digital communication school in Geneva.

INNOV INSEEC and its five incubators in Paris, Lyon, Bordeaux, London and Geneva give students the resources they need to become tomorrow’s digital entrepreneurs.

Digital training now represents around 5% of the Groupe INSEEC’s fundamental or continuing education courses. It aims to increase this percentage to 25% within three years.



For 2016, INSEEC U.’s budget was €200m. The company continues to implement its new strategy which notably includes pursuing national and international expansion, developing digital contents and trainings, and maintaining academic excellence.


In 2015, INSEEC U. pursued its national and international expansion with the opening of a new “flagship” campus in Lyon, the launch of a new campus in San Francisco, and the creation of new programs in Créa Genève. The group also developed its digital contents and trainings. Finally, INSEEC U. maintains its academic excellence with the AMBA accreditation launched for the INSEEC Grande Ecole. The French Ministry of Education renewed the national accreditation for the Grande Ecole for a 4-year period and the ACCSB accreditation process was launched at IUM.


  • Luxury Business Institute was inaugurated in Shanghai providing executive education for corporates and a Career Center in China for students and alumni of the group.
  • Two agreements signed in China: one with the Chinese Ministry of Culture to enable Chinese students to pursue a six-month double-training program in France and China; and the second with the Jiaotong University for an executive program in China.
  • Acquisition of management school CREA Genève.
  • Creation of a new San Francisco-based campus.
  • Definition of a clear strategy to position itself along three major axes: Luxury & Hospitality, Wine & Spirits and Communication, Design & Digital marketing.
  • Visual brand identity reviewed with the assistance of global brand specialist Jean-Noël Kapferer, a former HEC professor who joined INSEEC U.