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PE-backed Brazilian Education Brazil Education IPO Struggles to Make the Grade

28 October 2013

(WSJ) A second Brazilian educational group has wrapped up its flotation, despite struggling to win over investor enthusiasm.

Ser Educacional S.A. and its shareholders raised 538.6 million Brazilian reais ($247 million), much less than expected, due to tepid demand. The shares were priced at 17.50 reais, well below the target range of between 19.50-23.50 reais.

The firm, which specializes in providing university-level education in the fast-growing northeast of Brazil, was hurt by the government’s plans to erase a tax break introduced in 2005, which could lead to a 10% increase in the tax bill for private sector education firms.

It’s the second education IPO in Brazil in a week, after GAEC Educação SA, which operates under the brand name Anima Educação, completed its flotation.

The IPOs seek to tap into enthusiasm about the Brazilian market for private education services, which has grown rapidly over the past decade as a relatively stable economy steady and rising incomes has led to a surge in demand for education services.

About 14.3% of Brazilians aged 18 to 24 study at university, up from 13% in 2012, and the government says it wants to bring that figure up to 33% by 2020.

Ser said half the proceeds from the IPO will be used to expand through acquisitions. The other half went to two existing owners, Brazilian businessman José Janguiê Bezerra Diniz and U.S.-based private equity firm Cartesian Capital Group LLC.

Ser Educacional has 23 units across the country’s states in the north and northeast. The firm said that in 2012 it generated revenues of 283 million reais, up 54% from the year before, and income of 64.2 million reais, just over double the year earlier.

BTG Pactual, Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs and Banco Santander coordinated the IPO.