NZ schools provider ACG may be up for sale

Up to four private equity firms are said to be circling the business.   Duncan Bridgeman talks about ACG on NBR Radio, and on-demand on MyNBR Radio.

Local secondary schools provider Academic Colleges Group is exploring sale options, according to Australian media reports.

The Auckland-based company, which runs 10 secular schools, including eight in New Zealand, has appointed investment banks UBS and Macquarie to run the process, according to a report in the Australian newspaper.

Private equity firms Pacific Equity Partners, Quadrant Private Equity, Champ and Archer Capital are thought to be interested in the business, the paper says.

A sharemarket listing had also been one option, although less likely than a trade sale or private equity buyout.

Founding investor Danny Chan still has a sizeable stake in the business after buyout firm Waterman Capital acquired a 24% shareholding in 2013.

In response to the speculation, AGC has issued a statement saying it is considering options to acelerate its growth plans.

"ACG continues to see strong growth prospects across all of its diversified education divisions.  It has therefore appointed advisers to review strategic alternatives that will enable it to capitalise on these education sector opportunities," the statement says.

ACG made its name with the launch of campus-style private schools before expanding into language teaching and university foundation programmes.

ACG's first ventures – the Senior College of New Zealand and NZ International College – opened in 1995 and were funded by 40 private shareholders.

ACG then launched Junior College (forms one to four), then Strathallan College in Karaka and ACG Parnell in Auckland. Recently it bought digital design college Yoobee School of Design.

It also has one school in Vietnam and one in Jakarta, where it is planning to open a second school this year.

Across the ACG Group, there are approximately 9000 students and about 780 teachers employed.

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