Speculation has swirled for months about GEMS Education, a huge provider of private school education around the world, making an initial public offering. But it now appears those plans have been put on hold.
The international school operator will delay putting forward an IPO after regulators in Dubai froze tuition fees at private schools, which will affect the company’s financial projections, according to a report in Reuters, citing sources familiar with the issue.
GEMS Education serves about 118,000 students worldwide, in the Middle East, India, Africa, Europe, Southeast Asia, and North America. Its enrollment rose by 4.5 percent over the most recent year, according to a recent financial report.
The Dubai-based private school company had been seeking to issue an IPO on the London stock exchange, which has been targeting companies in the Middle East, trying to convince them of its attractiveness despite turmoil created by Brexit, reported Reuters.
GEMS reported yearly revenues of $602 million, up by 5 percent over last year. Its earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization climbed 6 percent, to $206 million.
It could have a market capitalization of between $4.5 billion and $5 billion, which would have made it the biggest IPO in London in a year, according to Reuters.
GEMS serves students in the international private school market, an area that has seen rapid expansion over the years.
In 2000, there were 2,584 international private schools where English was the primary mode of instruction. There are 9,549 such schools today, serving 5 million students, according to ISC Research, which studies the market.
In the United Arab Emirates, alone—where GEMS has a big presence—there are 600 international private schools serving more than 600,000 students, according to ISC. Only China has more international schools, with 807.
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