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Singapore eyes £2bn UK schools group


One of Singapore’s giant sovereign wealth funds is weighing a £2bn joint bid for Cognita, the UK-based schools operator.

Sky News understands that Temasek Holdings is working with an infrastructure fund managed by EQT, the Swedish private equity firm, on a potential offer for Cognita.

One of Britain’s biggest privately owned education groups, Cognita recently picked banks to lead an auction in an attempt to cash in on booming investor appetite for the sector.
CVC Capital Partners, the buyout firm which previously controlled Formula One motor racing, is also examining a bid, while Singapore’s other major state-backed fund, GIC, is among other prospective bidders, according to people close to the process.
Cognita operates 40 schools across the UK and dozens more overseas, has asked Goldman Sachs and Barclays to oversee a sale of the company.
A successful auction would generate huge returns to KKR and EMK Capital, the two private equity backers of Cognita.

Two rival education companies – Nord Anglia Education and GEMS Education – have also been reported to be among interested bidders at a time of accelerating interesting consolidation across the industry.
Cognita’s portfolio includes the Southbank International School in Kensington, Hong Kong’s Stamford American School, and schools in Brazil, Chile, Singapore, Spain, Thailand and Vietnam.
The company is run by Chris Jansen, a former AA chief executive and senior British Gas manager.

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Sources close to the impending sale process said that Cognita’s shareholders were focused on a private auction rather than a public listing of the company.
A Temasek spokesman declined to comment.

Source: SKY