Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Premji set to buy 10% in Manipal Education for Rs. 9 billion

India's richest tech billionaire and Wipro boss Azim Premji is set to invest Rs. 9 00 crore ($150 million) for over 10% stake in Manipal Global Education Services, people directly familiar with the matter said.

PremjiInvest, the proprietary investment fund of the Wipro chairman, is in the final lap of deal making, which could be announced soon. This will be the single largest investment by Premji, 69, with estimated net worth of $16 billion, and broader interests in the education sector.

Manipal Global, the for-profit education arm of the Bangalore headquartered Manipal Education and Medical Group (MEMG), operates a string of overseas campuses stretching from the Caribbean to Malaysia. India's largest education services company also operates test and assessment centers, skills development platforms and employment exchanges.

Ranjan Pai led MEMG consists of Manipal Global Education Services, Manipal Hospitals, stem cell company Stempeutics Research Private Limited and Manipal Servicecorp Facility Management.

PremjiInvest with a corpus of nearly $1.6 invests in both public and private equity, structured instruments and in real estate, which is typical of the large family offices globally. Three years ago, Premji pledged to donate $2 billion to improve universal education in India. He transferred a part of his Wipro shares to Azim Premji Trust, which runs a foundation and a university.

Interestingly, this will be Premji's return to Manipal Global after the promoter bought back shares of him and three other investors — IDFC, Capital International and Infosys founder NR Narayana Murthy's Catamaran Ventures — for Rs. 14.5 billion some 18 months ago. Sources cited earlier said Premji was not a seller but exited along with other investors who wanted to cash out with an 18% annualized return.

Senior officials at Manipal Global and Premji Invest declined comment on the story citing a policy of not confirming or denying market speculations. An emailed query to PremjiInvest Chief Investment Officer Prakash Parthasarathy remained unanswered.

Manipal Global had a consolidated revenue of Rs. 11.7 billion and operating profit of Rs. 3.51 billion in FY13. The financial numbers for the last fiscal could not be obtained immediately. The company operates a string of foreign university campuses in Antigua, Dubai, Malaysia and Nepal. Antigua is among the biggest campuses in the Caribbean, admitting more than 600 medical students every year, with $140,000 in fees for a five-year course.

Source: The Times of India, August 26, 2014

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