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British Council: Sale of IELTS in India

Volume 699: debated on Thursday 22 July 2021

I can today inform Parliament that the British Council, a non-departmental public body of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, will sell its IELTS English language test business in India to IDP Education, for £130 million. The business will be sold on a debt free, cash free basis.


Like many organisations, covid-19 has had a significant financial impact on the British Council’s operations. The proceeds from the sale will strengthen the British Council’s financial position and support its modernisation process.

Format and timing

Due to the nature of the agreement between the British Council and its IELTS partners, there is only one possible buyer of the British Council’s India IELTS business. Ernst & Young provided an independent valuation, which concluded that the offer for the business was fair and reasonable.

UK Government Investments has worked closely with the FCDO providing valuable advice on commercial aspects of the British Council’s outline and full business cases for the transaction.

Fiscal impacts

I can confirm that the net sale proceeds of £120 million were above the Government’s retention value range.


Impact (over a five-year horizon)

Net sale proceeds

£120 million

Retention value range


Public sector net borrowing

No immediate impact

Public sector net debt

Improved by a total of £120 million

Public sector net financial liabilities

Improved by a total of £120 million

Public sector net liabilities

Improved by a total of £118 million