OUTSOURCING firm Babcock International is gearing up to buy LearnDirect, the online teaching company.
Babcock, which maintains Royal Navy submarines and aircraft carriers, is said to be one of the bidders in the running to buy the training provider.
It is one of about 10 groups looking to buy LearnDirect, after Ufi, a charitable trust set up by the government in 1998, put it on the block in April. Several private equity firms are also said to be interested in buying the company.
The auction process is being handled by investment bank Rothschild, in a sale that could net Ufi up to £50m.
The trust is planning to use the funds raised from the sale of LearnDirect to plough back into its charitable work.
As well as engineering services, Babcock is also the largest provider of outsourced training in the UK.
It already provides vocational and safety training services to companies such as EDF Energy and pubs operator Mitchells & Butlers.
Babcock expanded its training unit with the acquisition of rival VT Group last year and could use LearnDirect to develop further in the sector.
Sheffield-based Ufi was established in 1998 by the then Labour government as part of its vision for a university for industry.
LearnDirect was launched in 2000 by Ufi to provide online courses for adults to improve basic skills such as Maths and English.
Since it was created, 3m people have used the site. Last year, it generated a turnover of about £140m.