Thursday 21 June 2018

Chinese fund to buy Pearson TEFL arm

North Asian buyout fund MBK Partners has also expressed interest in buying the business, the people said. Photo: Brendan Cullen
North Asian buyout fund MBK Partners has also expressed interest in buying the business, the people said. Photo: Brendan Cullen

Jonathan Browning and Cathy Chan

Pearson is in advanced talks to sell its English language training business to a consortium including Baring Private Equity Asia and Chinese private equity fund Citic Capital Holdings, according to people familiar with the matter.

A deal could value Wall Street English, which offers language training to adults in centres throughout China, at about $390m (€331m), including debt, the people said, asking not to be identified because the discussions are confidential.

North Asian buyout fund MBK Partners has also expressed interest in buying the business, the people said.

Pearson announced in February it hired Moelis & Co to seek partners for Wall Street English. It acquired the business in two transactions in 2009 and 2010 for a total of about $237m.

CEO John Fallon has been selling assets to raise cash after a bet on the company's education business hit turbulence.

The company sold its stake in Penguin Random House this year after auctioning off the 'Financial Times' newspaper and a 50pc holding in the Economist in 2015.

Pearson is now battling a slowdown in the market for textbooks amid falling US college enrollments.

There is no certainty the talks will result in a deal, and details may change, the people said. Representatives for Baring Private Equity, Citic Capital, MBK Partners and Pearson declined to comment.

Wall Street English operates more than 400 learning centers in 27 countries, according to its website.

More than 180,000 students are currently enrolled.

Bloomberg

Irish Independent

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