Laureate Education's Mexican business draws Advent International among final bidders, sources say

24 September 2020 - 05:11 pm UTC

by Jonathan Carmody in New York and Carlos Martinez in Bogota

Advent International is one of the final bidders for Laureate Education’s [NASDAQ:LAUR] Mexican business, said three sources familiar with the situation.

 

Baltimore, Maryland-based Laureate owns two higher-education institutions in Mexico — Universidad del Valle de Mexico (UVM) and Universidad Tecnologica de Mexico (Unitec) — with 168,400 students. 

 

With 38 campuses throughout the country, UVM is Mexico’s largest private university, according to Laureate’s website. United, for its part, serves more than 60,000 students on its nine campuses.

 

Laureate’s Mexican business could fetch USD 900m-USD 1bn, said one of the sources.

 

The business reported revenue of USD 269.1m and adjusted EBITDA of USD 43m for the first six months of 2020, according to financial filings. 

 

Last year, the Mexican business represented 20% of Laureate’s USD 3.3bn revenue.

 

This news service reported in March that Grupo Educativo ICEL, the education unit of privately held Mexican conglomerate Nacer Global, was evaluating bidding for Laureate’s assets. Mexico City-based ICEL, however, decided not to bid as it is focused on stabilizing its business, said a source familiar with the company.

 

ICEL, which owns 11 universities and 69 English-language schools, has been hit hard by COVID-19, this source said. The company focuses on the low and medium-cost university segment, according to financial filings of its real estate investment trust Fibra EDUCA [BMV:EDUCA18].

 

Laureate’s UVM and United also focus on the low and medium-cost university segment, this source said.

 

In January, Laureate announced it retained Goldman Sachs to explore strategic alternatives for each of its businesses. Since then it has entered into agreements to sell its operations in Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Brazil, and the US.

 

The higher education provider announced on 11 September it completed the divestiture of its operations in Chile with the sale of for-profit Instituto Profesional AIEP to Universidad Andres Bello for USD 214.6m and the sale of other assets such as Instituto Profesional Escuela Moderna de Musica to Fundacion Educacion y Cultura for USD 3.6m.

 

Three days later, Laureate announced it entered into a definitive agreement to sell its Brazilian operations to Ser Educacional [B3:SEER3] for BRL 3.9bn (USD 724m), of which BRL 1.7bn will be in cash and the rest in shares of Ser Educacional. Upon the closing of the transaction, Laureate will own about 44% of the shares of Recife-based Ser Educacional.

 

Laureate declined to comment and referred to its January press release announcing the strategic review. Advent and Goldman Sachs also declined to comment. ICEL did not respond to requests for comment.