Blackstone-Backed GEMS Plans to Invest in Egypt Schools With EFG

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Egypt’s EFG-Hermes Holding SAE plans to invest in local kindergartens and schools with GEMS Education, the Dubai-based school operator backed by Blackstone Group LP.

The joint venture will spend about $300 million over the next five years to buy existing schools and build new ones, Karim Moussa, the bank’s head of asset management and private equity, said on Sunday. EFG will raise half of that amount from investors, while Dubai-based GEMS will raise the rest and run the schools, Moussa said.

“The market is in dire need of higher quality education providers and developing new schools,” Moussa said in a phone interview from Dubai. The sector is “highly fragmented and most schools are family businesses with no real previous experience in K-12 education so we bring in a competitive spin into the market.”

GEMS, one of the world’s biggest education providers, owns and operates 47 schools and nurseries in the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, according to its website. The company is said to be moving ahead with an initial public offering, rebuffing interest from a private equity firm for a stake in the company.

EFG-Hermes expects to seal the fund’s first deal “within weeks,” Moussa said, and the bank’s private equity arm is now focusing on specific sectors. It also has a large pipeline of deals for its renewable energy arm Vortex, the first of which will be announced within the next year, he said. Source: Bloomberg

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