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CFCG buys 54% of Korea online language giant

Investment firm China First Capital Group has announced plans to acquire a 54% share in Korea-based online language training platform, SJW International, for $135m (HK$1.05bn).

CFCG acquires 54% of Siwon SchoolSean Lee, founder of Siwon School (centre), with Victor He (right of Lee), deputy CEO of CFCG. Photo: CFCG

The platform also offers courses in languages, including Chinese, Japanese and Spanish

SJW International, also known as Siwon School, provides language training videos online, primarily for English learners. It holds 63% of the market share of adult language learners in Korea.

This acquisition marks CFCG’s first entry into the Korean market. The school will become a key online asset for the company as it scales operations, according to He Qingrong, deputy chief executive officer of CFCG.

“Online education has a higher gross margin and the flexibility to adjust according to market changes”

“The group [CFCG] will bring forth its international edu-tech resources, such as the USA Silicon Valley based GSV Acceleration Fund, to support the alliance and help Siwon School on the international stage,” he said.

“Compared with traditional classrooms, online education has a higher gross margin and the flexibility to adjust according to market changes.”

Since last year, CFCG has announced collaborations with a number of domestic and overseas international education brands, such as Chinese K-12 education provider Virscend Education, and Australia-based G8 Education, which provides educational child care services.

Qingrong also noted that online language education, which enables a high level of personalisation, is “able to meet the needs of different learner groups, thus benefiting the development of the overall online education market.”

Siwon School is currently in the process of developing an adaptive learning platform which incorporates one-on-one live chat tutoring for adults and children.

In addition to English, the platform also offers training courses in other languages, including Chinese, Japanese and Spanish.

Private equity firms, Rhodium Capital in Singapore and Hong Kong-based WIDUS Partners, were also investors in the transaction.

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