Private equity firm Ascent Capital Advisors is close to picking up stake in the Hyderabad-based Oakridge International School, one of India’s largest International Baccalaureate (IB) school. The deal will involve Ascent Capital investing Rs 150 crore in Oakridge, sources familiar with the development have said.
The deal is expected to value the company anywhere between Rs 500 crore-Rs 600 crore, inform sources, adding that the parties have already signed the shareholders’ agreement. Oakridge has two branches in Gachibowli and Bachupally, two IT suburbs of Hyderabad. People Combine Avenues, which runs Oakridge, also raised Rs 20 crore in mezzanine funding from ICICI Venture last year.
An e-mail query sent to Ascent Capital’s Raja Kumar did not elicit any response till the time of filing this article. The management of the Oakridge International School could not be reached either.
Ascent Capital, an independent investment entity formed by the former UTI Ventures team, raised Ascent India Fund III with commitments of $350 million in February last year. The firm’s recent deals have mainly come in the infrastructure sector. It recently invested $30 million in Karaikal Port Pvt Ltd and prior to that, invested in IVRCL Assets & Holdings and GMR Energy.
The Ascent team had previous exposure in the education space as it had exited Mysore-based e-learning solutions provider Excelsoft Technologies with 50 times returns. DE Shaw bought out the entire 35.5 per cent stake of UTI Ventures in Excelsoft for $31 million.
There had been other deals in the K-12 space or the schooling business. For instance, Reliance Equity Advisors, the PE arm of Anil Ambani’s Reliance Capital, invested Rs 100 crore in Pathways World School in May last year.
Sequoia Capital India, along with Song Investment Advisors, had also invested in K-12 Techno Services Pvt Ltd, a firm that manages the schools owned by Hyderabad-headquartered Gowtham Educational Institutions.
India’s K-12 segment is a $20 billion market growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 14 per cent, a report by education-focused PE firm Kaizen Management Advisors has stated. Factors like large and growing population, inefficient public system and preferences for private schools and colleges are driving this sector.