Curro buys private school in Namibia

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PSG-aligned private education group Curro is back on the deal trail, snagging its first African deal scarcely six weeks after a controversial takeover bid for rival Advtech was shelved.

Although the failed Advtech bid could have led to a period of introspection, the company on Tuesday confirmed earlier speculation in Business Day by announcing the acquisition of Namibian private school Windhoek Gymnasium for R180m. Rival Advtech owns a private school in Botswana.

Although the deal opens up a new geographical front for Curro, market sources said the acquisition was small compared to the company’s market capitalisation of about R13.5bn.

Windhoek Gymnasium was established in 2006 and boasts 1,509 learners. Curro CEO Chris van der Merwe said the school was profitable but the “big attraction” was that the campus could be expanded to accommodate 2,600 learners.

A separate primary school could also be developed. “This is one of the most prestigious schools in Namibia, and we see a lot of potential.”

Mr van der Merwe said that there was a willingness to pursue suitable opportunities in that country. “Obviously the potential for private schooling is not as great as in SA, but there could be two or three opportunities for us in Namibia.”

Asked whether the acquisition signalled wider African ambitions, he said Curro still had ample opportunities in SA where seven schools a year were being rolled out. “But if we do see a compelling opportunity north of our border we obviously will have a look.”

Curro has set a long-term goal of 80 campuses (or 200 schools) in SA by 2020.

“Our main focus remains on opportunities in SA, of which there are more than enough — especially for next year.”Curro has 42 campuses (or 100 schools) with more than 36,000 learners. Aside from its Curro brand, it owns standalone independent schools such a Waterstone College, Woodhill College, Grantleigh and St Dominics. Source: BD Live


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