[The Edge] Owners of private education firm SEG International mull stake sale

KUALA LUMPUR/SINGAPORE (Feb 25): Owners of SEG International Bhd are considering selling their stakes in the Malaysian private tertiary education group, according to people familiar with the matter.

Navis Capital Partners Ltd, an Asia-focused private-equity firm, and SEG International’s managing director Clement Hii, have held preliminary discussions with potential advisers, the people said. The asset has drawn some interests from potential suitors including Chinese companies, the people, who asked not to be identified as the information is private, said.

“There has been some inquiries from interested parties,” Hii said in an emailed response to Bloomberg query. “While we’re open to possibilities, there hasn’t been concrete discussions on this matter at the moment.”

Deliberations are at an early stage and there’s no certainty [that] the owners will proceed with a transaction, the people said. Navis Capital declined to comment.

While a sale could come as the growing affluent families in Asia drives demand for private education and overseas study, the political uncertainty in Malaysia and the 2019 novel coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak could weigh on the plan. Navis Capital is the biggest shareholder with about 37% stake in SEG, followed by Clement Hii’s 32%, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Shares of SEG have dropped 2.4% in the past year, giving the company a market value of about 774 million ringgit (US$183 million).

SEG International, based in Kuala Lumpur since 1977, owns and runs five SEGi universities and colleges across Malaysia, serving 25,000 students, according to its website. The company also collaborates with overseas universities on twinning programs and plans to introduce part-time executive diploma programs, as well as bachelor and master degrees.