Permira Invests in EF Kids Unit at $1.5 Billion Value

Private equity firm Permira has agreed to acquire a majority stake in EF Education First Inc.’s kids and teens business, valuing the unit at about $1.5 billion, according to people familiar with the matter.

The buyout firm announced the investment on Tuesday, without providing any financials of the deal. The transaction came after weeks of negotiations that were once slowed by the outbreak of Covid-19, said the people, who asked not to be identified as the information is private.

Representatives for EF Education and Permira declined to comment on the details of the deal.

EF Education started exploring a sale of its Chinese business late last year and attracted other private equity firms to the asset, Bloomberg News had reported. The sale of the entire operation was expected to fetch $1.5 billion to $2 billion, the people had said.

EF Education will retain a significant ownership in the kids and teens business after selling the majority stake to Permira, according to the buyout firm’s statement. Swedish billionaire Bertil Hult founded EF Education in 1965. The Lucerne, Switzerland-based company offers educational tours and cultural exchange programs as well as classroom-based and online language training.

The kids and teens operation includes 288 schools across 62 cities in China and 78 schools in Indonesia, the statement said. The business has helped students study online through EF Education’s proprietary learning platform during the pandemic over the past few months.

Permira, founded in 1985, has a total committed capital of about $48 billion, according to its statement. Its funds have been operating in Asia for more than a decade with offices in Tokyo, Hong Kong, Seoul and Shanghai. The private equity firm has deployed about $1.2 billion in education and related technology.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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