Drama school agrees £6.5m takeover

Emma WatsonThe founders of a drama school business whose former students include Harry Potter star Emma Watson are in line for a £3 million windfall after agreeing to sell the venture.
Stagecoach Theatre Arts was set up by drama teacher Stephanie Manuel and banker David Sprigg in 1988 from three rented rooms in Surrey but now has some 700 schools across the globe. Other famous students include Tom Fletcher, lead singer in McFly.
The £6.5 million management buy-out, which is backed by private investor Shirin Gandhi, will see Mr Sprigg receive £1.9 million and exit the company, whereas Ms Manuel will sell about half her stake for £1 million and will stay on a part-time basis.

They opened the school after Ms Manuel, an actor, writer and drama teacher, spotted a niche in the market for a dance, drama and singing school for children between the ages of four and 18.

She teamed up with Mr Sprigg, who describes himself as a failed rock star who was "rescued" from his job at Barclays, where he was a lending manager.

The business started with three schools in rented rooms, in Richmond, Redhill and Woking, but it developed into a franchise business and now has 684 schools across the globe including the US and Australia.

Some 600 of its operations are in the UK, where it teaches 34,000 students a year.

Mr Gandhi, a partner at private equity firm Encore Capital, said the company will be able to grow faster as a private company.

Shares rose 63%, close to the 65p offer price.

Chairman Graham Cole said: "The offer represents an opportunity for shareholders to achieve an immediate cash exit for their shareholding at a significant premium to the company's recent share price."

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