HT Media Ltd, publisher of the Hindustan Times newspaper, has entered into an agreement with an affiliate of Apollo Global, Inc. (USA), to form a 50:50 joint venture in order to provide educational services and programmes across the country, the company has disclosed in a statement to the Bombay Stock Exchange. However, the financial details of the transaction were not disclosed.

The JV between HT Media and Apollo Global aims to address the need of quality educational services and the education?employment mismatch, so that employees are well-trained for the 21st century global workplace.

Shares of HT Media were trading at Rs 125 a piece on the BSE at 3.33 pm, up 1.21 per cent from the previous close.

Founded in 2007, Apollo Inc. is a joint venture between Apollo Group, Inc. and the Carlyle Group, a private equity major. The Apollo Global network also includes BPP, a leading provider of education and training to professionals in the legal and finance industries in the UK and Europe; Universidad de Artes, Ciencias y Comunicación (UNIACC), a leading arts and communications university in Chile; the Universidad Latinoamericana (ULA) , a renowned communications, business and medical university in Mexico and Western International University (WIU), a US-accredited university specialising in business and technology education with online delivery worldwide.

Incorporated in 1924, HT Media is based in Gurgaon and the company, along with its subsidiaries, primarily engages in the publishing business. It has also made foray into the education space with the launch of StudyMate, a chain of tuition centres in Delhi for 9th-12th standard students. StudyMate helps students master the course materials with the help of learning activities, self-assessment tools and educational games. Students select activities which appeal to their learning styles, making the whole experience a personalised one and effective.

Incidentally, education services firms have been attracting funds from strategic corporate investors, as well as private equity firms.  

The education sector has seen an increasing interest from PE players, with investments of $190 million across 23 deals in 2010, as compared to 10 deals worth $128 million in 2009, according to VCCedge, the financial research platform of VCCircle.

There are several education-focused PE funds, as well as generic growth capital funds, who are now eyeing this space. For instance, Kaizen Private Equity, which is raising a $100 million fund for the sector, has secured funding from HDFC, India’s largest mortgage lender, and the World Bank body, International Finance Corporation (IFC). Another player is Milestone Religare, with dual focus on education and healthcare. In September this year, PE firm Ascent Capital Advisors also invested Rs 150 crore in Hyderabad-based Oakridge International School for an undisclosed stake.

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