Singapore-based private equity firm Southern Capital is said to explore an exit plan from its six-year-old investment in Malaysia-based private education institution HELP International Corporation (HELP Group), two people with knowledge of the matter told DealStreetAsia.
While the official process has not started, Southern Capital is actively discussing with potential buyers for HELP Group, whose average annual EBITDA is around $10-12 million. The PE firm has not appointed an official sell-side advisor yet.
An email sent to Southern Capital seeking comment on the development remained unanswered at the time of publishing the article.
Southern Capital, which acquired the stake in end-2013, is said to own over 50 per cent stake in HELP Group. The acquisition was conducted through Better Education Enterprise Sdn Bhd, wholly owned by Southern Capital chairman Tan Sri Tan Teong Hean.
Better Education Enterprise was backed by Southern Capital Partners III – which raised $400 million in mid-2013.
The PE firm is said to have paid 359.3 million ringgit ($111.3 million) for the HELP Group stake during the acquisition process, which was advised by RHB Investment Bank.
HELP Group was started by Paul Chan Tuck Hoong and Chan-Low Kam Yoke through the operation of HELP Institute in 1986. The company was listed in Bursa Malaysia in May 2007.
According to its website, HELP Group is currently operating HELP University, HELP College of Arts and Technology, HELP Academy, HELP International School, Crescendo HELP International School, International Preschool Curriculum and The Little Tree House.
Aside from HELP Group, Southern Capital is also said to seek an exit from two more education sector investments: Singapore’s early childhood education and daycare centre chain Star Learners and Singapore-based Canadian International School. The firm has appointed Deloitte as the sell-side advisor for Star Learners deal while Rothschild is working for Canadian International School, we understand.
Earlier in May 2019, DealStreetAsia reported that Southern Capital achieved a final close of its fourth fund at $500 million. The final close was conducted in January 2019 after the firm secured commitments from the several US and Europe-based family offices, endowments and pension funds.
Southern Capital Group’s Fund IV received $80 million commitment from a consortium of investors led by Dutch PE major AlpInvest Partners in early 2018. Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC was also said to be part of the investor consortium. Southern Capital Group’s Fund IV, launched in 2017, took more than a year to close.