China has emerged in the past two decades as one of the world’s largest markets for private education services and home to many of the richest entrepreneurs in the field. Shares in online education firms TAL and New Oriental Education, for instance, have soared during the coronavirus outbreak, fueling anew the fortunes of their billionaire leaders Zhang Bangxin and Michael Yu. (See related post here.)
The outbreak hasn’t entirely disrupted education businesses looking overseas for growth. Among them, Hope Education Group on Monday unveiled plans to pay $140 million for a 62% stake in Inti Education Holdings of Malaysia. Hope Group, whose investors include Chen Yuxin, a brother of Chinese billionaires Liu Yonghao and Liu Yongxin, runs a dozen colleges in China with more than 100,000 students.
Hope Education’s move in the Malaysia follows word on Jan. 29 that China Maple Leaf Education, a preschool to K-12 education services company founded by Chinese-Canadian entrepreneur Sherman Jen, had offered to acquire Kingsley Edugroup, a Malaysia-based private education provider. Maple Leaf targets students from middle-class families who aim to pursue higher education abroad and charge affordable tuition fees. The Dalian-headquartered company said the acquisition would allow for the sharing of resources with Kingsley, expansion into Malaysia, and permit Maple Leaf to tap Kingsley’s classroom space. Maple Leaf’s offer is worth HK$432 million, about $55 million. Both companies are listed in Hong Kong.