Dubai's GEMS Education could fetch IPO valuation of $4bn

Sources say private-school operator has held meetings with investment banks in Dubai this month

GEMS Education may fetch a valuation of about $4 billion or more in a potential initial public offering in London as early as next year, according to people familiar with the matter.

The private-school operator - backed by private equity firms Blackstone Group and Fajr Capital Ltd and wealth fund Bahrain Mumtalakat Holding Co - has held meetings with investment banks in Dubai this month and is planning to make appointments in the coming weeks, the people said, asking not to be identified because the discussions are private.

Rothschild & Co is working as the company’s financial adviser and GEMS, one of the biggest private-school companies globally, is seeking to appoint underwriting banks, the people said. No final decisions have been made and GEMS may also decide not to pursue a listing, they said.

A spokesman for Dubai-based GEMS wasn’t immediately available to comment. Rothschild declined to comment.

Companies in the United Arab Emirates are starting to explore IPOs after just three companies listed in the last 12 months, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Emaar Properties said it plans an IPO of its real estate development unit later this year, while Emirates Global Aluminium, jointly owned by Abu Dhabi and Dubai, is also planning to sell shares, people familiar with the plans said in March.

GEMS, which operates more than 250 schools across 14 countries, is expanding after selling stakes to private equity firms, including Blackstone, in 2014. The company had revenue of $539.1 million for the six-month period ended February 28, a 15 percent increase versus same period last year, according to a filing to the Nasdaq Dubai exchange.

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