Lebanon-based educator begins Africa expansion

02 July 2015

Financing deal valued at hundreds of million of dollars signed for schools

  • Lebanon’s Sabis, Dubai’s Investbridge Capital and Kenya’s Centum Group are to establish dozens of schools across Africa over the next five years
  • Each school requires $20m-$35m of investment
  • Egypt is a key target market for Sabis

Lebanon-based educational services company Sabis has signed a deal with Dubai-based Investbridge Capital and Kenya’s Centum Group to establish schools across Africa.

The new joint venture will establish its first school in Kenya, then look to the rest of the continent.

It expects to set up dozens of schools in the next three to five years. Each school costs between $20m and $35m, meaning a total investment of hundreds of millions of dollars.

The seed capital for the first schools has been put up by the partners. Further expansion plans will need equity contributed by selected global investors.

Sabis is studying one opportunity in Alexandria and two in Cairo, as well as possibilities in Morocco as part of the partnership.

“There are enormous opportunities in Egypt,” says Carl Bistany, president of Sabis. “But the difficulty of going after opportunities lies in finding the right capital, which is patient enough as education is a long-term business.”

The development of the schools will be undertaken by Athena Properties, a subsidiary of Kenya-based Centum.

Sabis already has schools in several Middle East countries, including the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, under the Choueifat brand.

“A lot of UAE entities are heading for East Africa and Centum is well-positioned to be a gateway,” says Mark DeSario, CEO of Dubai-based Investbridge. “The UAE is a fantastic platform for capital deployment around the world. It is a starting point of capital, not necessarily an ending point.”

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