Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Baobab School takeover by SA firm given a thumb up

Botswana’s Competition Authority has finally approved the takeover of Baobab Primary School by a South African firm a month after the deal was filed with the regulator.

In a deal estimated at P65 million, Curro Holdings, through its investment vehicle Entax Holdings made a proposal to acquire the 27 year old Baobab Primary in February this year. While the deal had already been struck between the two entities, the takeover of Baobab’s assets and liabilities as a going concern was subject to Competition Authority’s approval.

In its approval decision the antitrust body hammered a few details to the deal to ensure that the transfer of shareholding from locals to the foreign firm will not come at a greater cost to the local market, particularly the existing suppliers and clientele of Baobab school.

The binding conditions are Entax Holdings will continue to source uniforms from the existing local suppliers, parents and learners will not be forced to buy Curro branded gadgets, and that the current staff will be retained. Curro has in the past has been probed for anticompetitive behaviour in South Africa after it came to light that several private school businesses have entered in exclusive contracts with school uniform suppliers, something which led to price soaring and bordering on price collusion.

Curro Holdings is an independent education provider listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange and has about 138 schools under its portfolio, which net around P2 billion in revenues. The education provider says it is planning to invest P2.3 billion on an expansion drive which will include acquisitions along the way.

“Strategic acquisitions at competitive prices are continuously considered in addition to the greenfield expansion programme,” Curro chief executive Andries Greyling has previously said.

It appears Curro has set its eyes on Botswana’s lucrative private education market as this marks their second investment in the country. In 2016 the South African biggest private education firm bought half of Baisago University, a private tertiary education provider.

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