Vietnamese education group Nguyen Hoang pauses stake sale on valuation concerns


VIETNAMESE education firm Nguyen Hoang Group has paused the sale of a minority stake that could potentially value its business at around US$1 billion as bids came short of its expectations, two sources with knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

The Ho Chi Minh City-based group hired JPMorgan earlier this year to explore selling a minority stake of potentially 10 per cent to 20 per cent, which attracted interest from private equity firms and other education companies, the sources said.

However, their bids didn’t match Nguyen Hoang Group’s valuation expectations of around US$1 billion and the sale process has been put on hold, the sources added, declining to be identified as the matter is confidential.

The group may still revive the sale in future, the sources added.

Nguyen Hoang Group did not respond to requests seeking comment. JPMorgan declined to comment.

The sale halt comes at a time where Vietnam is facing challenges arising from weakening global demand and a strengthening US dollar that prompted its central bank to raise policy rates by a combined 200 basis points and allow the dong currency to weaken against the US dollar.

The rate hikes, coupled with the government’s move to tighten rules on corporate bond issuance and restrict their refinancing, have left the economy facing a credit crunch.

Nguyen Hoang Group has 60 campuses in 24 provinces and cities in Vietnam, with over 75,000 students, according to its website. It runs schools and universities and offers education programmes ranging from kindergarten to PhD levels.

Education assets in South-east Asia have been attracting investors’ interests due to the growing number of affluent families in the region.

The sale of Advent International’s stake in Singaporean tuition chain The Learning Lab has attracted private equity firms including PAG and Platinum Equity, Reuters reported earlier this month. REUTERS