Southern Capital said to seek exit from Malaysia’s HELP Group

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.

 

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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.