CVC, TA Associates said to be in race for Vietnam’s Apollo English stake

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A host of global private equity (PE) firms including UK’s CVC Capital Partners and US-based TA Associates have evinced interest in picking up stake in Vietnam’s English language teaching (ELT) company Apollo English, three sources privy to the development told DealStreetAsia.

Both CVC Capital Partners and TA Associates are close to joining the bidding process, they added.

In December 2019, DealStreetAsia had first reported about the owners’ intention of selling a majority stake in Apollo English in a process run by Credit Suisse. It was then understood that Khalid Muhmood and his wife Arabella Peters – who control the entire company – could even look at selling a 100 per cent stake in the firm if they find a suitable buyer.

The ELT company, founded in 1995, currently operates under the Singapore-headquartered Dragonfly Education Group that is owned by the couple.

The deal size is likely to be in the region of $150 million, the source added.

When contacted, a CVC Capital Partners spokesperson declined to comment on the development, while an email sent to TA Associates did not elicit any response. Meanwhile, Dragonfly Education Group, too, did not respond to a text message that DealStreetAsia sent, seeking queries on the current stake sale process.

According to its website, Dragonfly Education operates other portfolios including the British Education Partnership, British University of Vietnam and EDUNE Learning Network.

Apollo English offers courses for age groups between 3 and 16 under its junior programme. Besides, it also offers English language training to young adults and working professionals under Apollo English 360. It has 30 centres located in cities such as Ho Chi Minh, Ha Noi, Da Nang, Hai Phong, Bien Hoa and Binh Duong. It also offers IELTS & TOEFL and school partnership programmes.

As earlier reported by DealStreetAsia, the sale value for Apollo English is expected to be around 17-18x of its EBITDA that currently stands at around $9-10 million.

ELT companies are increasingly garnering the attention of investors in Vietnam. Recently, Apax English, owned by Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange (HOSE)-listed Apax Holdings Investment JSC, made headlines for looking to raise about $40 million to expand its operation.

We reported about the development, adding that the company has roped in PwC Vietnam as its exclusive financial advisor.

Last year, Kaizen Private Equity invested $10 million in YOLA, an English and test prep startup backed by local firm Mekong Capital. Other recent education investments in the Southeast Asian country include TAEL Partners’s investment in IvyPrep, Northstar Group’s $50-million funding in Topica Edtech and Navis Capital’s investment in Thanh Thanh Cong Education.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

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  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
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Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.