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Fri 29 Mar 2013 11:46 AM

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Dubai's GEMS said to seek up to $1bn financing

Education provider reportedly aiming to raise funds to build 21 schools over next three years

Dubai's GEMS said to seek up to $1bn financing
Dino Varkey, group executive director, GEMS.

Dubai-based GEMS Education is reportedly seeking to raise between $650m and $1bn to build more than 20 new schools over the next three years.

The world’s biggest privately owned provider of school education is raising funds from debt, equity and real estate partnerships to build 21 new schools, including in the US and UK, CEO Dino Varkey said in an interview with Bloomberg.

For-profit GEMS, which operates more than 60 schools and colleges worldwide, will also use money raised to boost capacity at 10 existing institutions, Bloomberg said.

“There is a significant amount of demand in the UAE, but also huge demand across Africa, across east and south Asia,” Varkey was quoted as saying.

“Governments on their own cannot fund this demand, they cannot move fast enough to meet this demand.”

Varkey also told Bloomberg that GEMS won’t make a decision on an initial public offering (IPO) until it completes the current round of expansion.

“Four or five years from now, when the organisation is a different size and scale, that’s a decision we make at that point,” he said.

In December, GEMS drew criticism from students and their parents when it announced the closure of its Westminster School in Dubai, one of the biggest child-learning centres in the emirate.

The facility, located in Dubai’s Al Ghusais area, is attended by approximately 4,800 pupils from ages five to eighteen years old. In a letter sent to parents, GEMS said the Westminster School would shut in June 2014 with students being given priority placement in other GEMS institutions as far away as Ras Al Khaimah.

In October, GEMS said that it planned to open ten new schools in Dubai over the next two years as part of the firm's ambitious expansion plans.

GEMS also recently announced that it would be investing $650m in emerging markets to build schools in markets in Africa, the Middle East, India and South East Asia.

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Dr. Qasim 7 years ago

Such an ambitious organization with Billion investment plan to open 60 new schools globally, can not afford to run an already running school with 4800 enrolled student with small profitability margin. It is a big question for any person! I don't think Dubai Education authorities has such an attitude to end up any investor or organization such as Verkey Group at loss. Think?

Parent of a soon-to-be-former-GEMs student 7 years ago

Sure hope they get the profit margins spot on for these schools so that they can be kept open. Believe it or not, it's quite disruptive closing down schools.

a parent 7 years ago

Don't close the school.

a parent 7 years ago

This is scary how can a school with 4800 enrolled students just close like that ,what will the students do ?Keep the school to avoid the panic you will cause to all parents who have their kids in any of your schools ,if you want to save your reputation.....DON'T CLOSE THE SCHOOL

Disgusted Parent 7 years ago

Why would they close the school which is already giving them a profit, it means there is something fishy...

1. They might be trying to increase the students in other branches and launch re-admission in this branch to earn more.

2. Authorities are involved, i.e. to improve admissions in surrounding schools.

3. Increase fees once for all, equivalent to other schools.

Utter Shame.!

agonized parent 7 years ago

if one school makes less money for Gems let them get it from other 59 schools, why jeopardizing the future of 5000 kids.
to think about- they call them philanthropist, uncaring towards their own students, using education as business, they simply undone their goodwill of all these years.