July 29, 2020 / 5:07 AM / 15 days ago

Permira buys majority stake in EF's children-focused business

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Private equity firm Permira bought a 60% stake in the children-focused business of language tutor EF Education First, valuing it at around $1.5 billion, according to two sources with direct knowledge.

Permira and EF declined to comment. The sources, one of whom confirmed the valuation for the China and Indonesia-focused EF Kids & Teens unit, declined to be named as the information is confidential.

The deal, first announced on Tuesday without disclosing financial details, comes as businesses worldwide - particularly in the education, retail and travel sectors - are hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

Permira entered exclusive talks with EF in February to buy EF Kids & Teens China operations, valuing it at around $1.6 billion, Reuters reported at the time.

China’s subsequent pandemic lockdown led to recalculations of the unit’s financial projections, according to the sources.

Headquartered in Switzerland, EF Kids & Teens has 288 schools across 62 cities in China and 79 schools in Indonesia and networks of international teachers.

EF said hundreds of thousands of students had used its online proprietary learning platform in recent months. The company said it plans to use Permira’s investment to expand its school network, invest heavily in academic programs and deliver more innovations for both in-classroom and online learning.

Reporting by Kane Wu; editing by Jane Wardell

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