PRI buys RI Academy on-line training portal from RIAA

Sale made for an undisclosed sum.

The RI Academy, the on-line education portal funded with an Australian government grant worth Aus$2.5m (€1.25m) and run by the Responsible Investment Association Australasia (RIAA) has been sold to the United Nations-supported Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) for an undisclosed sum and will be renamed the PRI Academy. The deal, which is set to be signed in the next couple of weeks once a due diligence process is complete, will see the Academy transferred to the PRI’s London headquarters and marketed from there. The intellectual property rights for the Academy will be transferred to the PRI with RIAA retaining an ongoing advisory role, particularly during the business transition from Sydney to London.
Simon O’ Connor, Chief Executive of RIAA told RI it was selling the business to the PRI because there had been growth constraints in trying to service a global market from Australia when a large number of sales are in Europe. He said that to take the next ‘step up’ the Academy needs to be run by a bigger organisation than RIAA. O’Connor joined RIAA to head it up 18 months ago and a significant part of his role was to support the marketing and sales of the Academy, working with two other staff members, an IT contractor and a project manager. He said RI Academy sales to date represented 1200 individuals at 210 companies in 40 countries: “There’s been good demand, particularly in the last year, and a lot of realization about the value of education in this area, which has meant larger multiple sales.”The RI Academy was set up in 2010 on the back of the Australian government grant in 2009 and sells three levels of on-line training: RI Fundamentals, RI Essentials and Enhanced Financial Analysis. A French language module is scheduled to go live shortly. Since launch, RIAA has signed partnership sales deals with the Association for Sustainable 
& Responsible Investment 
in Asia (AsRIA), the Responsible Investment
 Association in Canada and the Responsible Investment 
Research Association in India. The PRI says it will continue those partner deals. Fiona Reynolds, Managing Director of the PRI, said it would hire a new on-line education manager in London for the Academy and go through a period of ‘PRIsing’ the courses to reflect PRI language and ensure they compliment the PRI’s initiatives in asset classes and services. She said the transition would take a few months. She noted that as part of discussions on the PRI’s forthcoming three-year plan there was significant demand for education that the initiative could now provide via the PRI Academy. She said the PRI had not ruled out doing more face-to-face training to compliment the Academy: “The PRI is purchasing the Academy because we believe in education and these are world-class courses. As an Australian, I’m also proud that the Australian government put the grant money down to initially support this initiative and we’re really pleased to still be involved with RIAA on it. We believe it needs a global home because there is increasing need for investors around the world and the public more broadly to understand responsible investment issues thoroughly.”