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Chinese agency EIC bought for reported $692m

A private equity-led group of investors has bought Education International Corporation for a reported figure close to $700m. EIC is one of China’s largest education agencies, claiming a 13% national share of outbound agency business, according to the buyers.

EIC has been bought for a reported $692m.

CVC, which bought a majority stake in EIC in 2013, is reported to have more than tripled its investment in the deal

Financial details of the deal have not been disclosed, though Reuters reported that a source “with direct knowledge of the deal” said it had generated $692m for previous investors CVC Capital Partners.

In 2014, the agency sent some 18,500 Chinese students overseas to study

Luxembourg-based CVC acquired a majority stake in EIC in 2013 for a reported $200m, buying shares from Actis Capital and EIC’s founder, Joe Li. It appears to have therefore more than tripled its investment in the deal, which was led by China-based NLD Investment LLP, in partnership with Li and other management.

EIC has organised study abroad placements for some 120,000 students since it was founded in 2000, and has counselling centres in 26 countries. It also offers test preparation services through 30 centres across China.

In 2014, the agency sent some 18,500 Chinese students overseas to study, of which around 45% enrolled at one of the world’s top 50 ranked higher education institutions, it said.

According to previous owners CVC, the company has a turnover of $125.5m, with more than 2,000 employees.

The sale comes almost a year after CVC announced it would be launching an IPO in July 2015. However, the slated IPO did not happen.

Since investing in the firm from its Asia Fund III, CVC has worked to strengthen EIC’s management team with strategic appointments including Isa Wong, formerly of Pearson, as CEO in 2014.

“We have been deeply impressed by EIC’s world class management team and their success in expanding the business”

CVC also led the acquisition of US-focused test prep and counselling company New Pathway in 2014, further bolstering EIC’s reach in the US and giving it an online and mobile presence.

“We have been deeply impressed by EIC’s world class management team and their success in expanding the business into new premium market segments, significantly upgrading products and service offerings, and generating outstanding business growth over the last few years,” commented Hans Wang, partner at CVC in Hong Kong.

Jerry Liu, managing director of NLD, said the company is excited to work with EIC’s management team to “further enhance its leadership position as the partner of choice for international education”.

NLD Investment is one of China’s leading private equity funds, with total assets under management of over RMB10bn ($150m). It invests in industries including education, consumer brands, retail, and environmental protection across China and other Asian markets.

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