PE firm VI Group said to mull options for Vietnam’s Wellspring International school

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Vietnam-focused private equity (PE) firm Vietnam Investments Group (VI Group) is said to be exploring options to exit its six-year-old investment in Wellspring International Bilingual School, four persons familiar with the matter told DealStreetAsia.

The PE firm has not roped in an advisory firm yet but is learnt to have begun preliminary discussions with a few parties for its stake in the Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City-based school.

The quantum of VI Group’s stake in Wellspring and its current market value could not be ascertained.

It is understood that Vietnamese real estate developer SSG Group, the founder and majority owner of Wellspring International, is amongst those who have evinced interest in picking up VI Group’s stake.

“The founder of the SSG Group is well-connected to the Vietnam government and Wellspring’s schools are located within SSG’s property projects in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City,” pointed out one source.

“While the market has been witnessing significant interest from foreign investors, the alignment with the school’s founder, in this case, makes it a plausible deal,” added the person.

Emails sent to VI Group and SSG Group by DealStreetAsia did not elicit a response.

VI Group is believed to have acquired a minority stake in Wellspring around September 2013. The investment was routed through Vietnam Investments (VI) Fund II, which was backed by the UK-based development finance institution CDC Group, among other investors.

According to information available on its website, Wellspring in Hanoi officially started its first academic year in August 2011. Subsequently, the school in Ho Chi Minh City started its operation in August 2014. Both schools provide an inter-level education system from grade 1 to 12.

VI Group has made investments in a plethora of sectors. These include manufacturing, transportation and logistics, tourism and hotels, education, quick service restaurants (QSR), and affordable housing, among others. The PE firm manages $400 million of assets across its three funds. Its VI Fund III was closed at $252 million.

Meanwhile, SSG Group, founded in October 2003, is amongst one of the leading realty developers in Vietnam. Apart from real estate and education, it also operates businesses in renewable energy, mining and mineral processing. The group’s chartered capital stands at about 1 trillion dong ($43.2 million) currently.

Vietnam’s education startups continue to rake in moolah

Startups in the education sector in Vietnam are increasingly attracting investor dollars in line with the rising demand for quality education amongst the country’s burgeoning middle-class. Some of the recent deals in this space include Navis Capital’s investment in Thanh Thanh Cong Education, Kaizen PE’s $10-million investment in English language training service provider YOLA and Northstar Group’s $50-million injection in Topica Edtech.

In November, we reported that Baring PE Asia has picked up a majority stake in Vietnam USA Society English Centres.

Other Vietnamese firms to have bagged funding in recent years include Vietnam Australia International School (from TPG), ILA Vietnam (EQT Partners) and Ivyprep (by TAEL Partners).

According to industry experts tracking the education sector, Vietnamese companies are seeking to be valued at multiples of over 13 times EBITDA.

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.

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.