Dubai: GEMS Education, a Dubai-based schools operator, is seeking to raise about $500 million (Dh1.836 billion) to fund growth by selling a stake of up to 20 per cent in the privately owned company, Chairman Sunny Varkey said on Monday.
GEMS, which employs about 11,000 staff, operates around 100 private schools across the Gulf region, home to many prosperous expatriates. Private schools in countries such as the UAE are expanding rapidly as demand surges along with economic growth.
“We are a company that is growing. We are looking to raise approximately $500 million in the near term,” Varkey said.
Earlier on Monday, Dubai-based Arabian Business magazine, had reported, without revealing its sources, that the firm was looking to sell up to 33 per cent to raise the sum.
“We will not sell more than 20 per cent,” Varkey said. He said GEMS had appointed Credit Suisse as a financial adviser to help with the sale process and seek investors.
GEMS had raised $545 million loan from local banks in April for new investments in schools in the region and for refinancing.
In March, sources said the firm was merging its global operations to create a business worth up to $2 billion, and was considering an initial public offering in 2013. Varkey said there were no plans for an imminent share listing.
The Abraaj Group, the Middle East’s largest private equity firm, bought 25 per cent of GEMS in 2007, restructuring the stake five years later into a loan.