Gulf Capital invests USD 30 million in Evolvence Knowledge Investments Limited ("EKI") to help fund the roll out of schools across the GCC
Gulf Capital, one of the leading and most active alternative investment firms in the Middle East, has successfully completed an investment in Evolvence Knowledge Investments Limited (“EKI”) through “Gulf Credit Partners”, its regional fund. EKI engages in the establishment and operation of private schools and nurseries in the GCC including the renowned Repton School Dubai, in partnership with Repton School in the United Kingdom, a prestigious Derbyshire-based independent school with more than 450 years of education excellence. Gulf Credit Partners provides financing to fast growing companies in the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey.
Dr. Karim El Solh, Chief Executive Officer of Gulf Capital, said: “Gulf Credit Partners’ investment will help EKI achieve its ambitious growth plans at an exciting time for the GCC’s emerging education sector. EKI’s positioning in the defensive and fast growing education sector as well as its sound strategy and experienced management team are strongly aligned with our fund’s strategy. Gulf Capital has been an active investor in defensive sectors such as power, water, healthcare and food and this latest investment in education will complement our existing portfolio of defensive investments.”
The UAE education sector is witnessing substantial growth and is depicting steady long-term performance, driven by: (i) strong population growth (2.5%), (ii) higher enrollment rates (108% at the primary level), (iii) increased awareness among parents of delivering better education to their children, (iv) high income levels (GDP per capita $44,000) permitting parents to enroll their children in quality private education and (v) ongoing governmental support to develop education and to stimulate the private sector participation (68% is the private school share in the total number of students).
The total number of students in the UAE, estimated at around 900,000, has been growing at a fast rate of 5.8% during the past years, reflecting the strong enrollment in the educational system in the country. In particular, the private sector has been growing the fastest, with the total number of students in private schools growing at annual average rate of 8.6% as per the figures released by the Ministry of Education and the National Bureau of Statistics. EKI, as a leading private school operator, is ideally positioned to take advantage of the fast growing GCC education sector.
Khaled Almheiri, the Co-Founder and Chairman of EKI said: “We are very pleased to partner with Gulf Capital on furthering the growth of EKI. Gulf Capital has a long history and a demonstrable track record of successfully working with fast growing companies and adding substantial value. Gulf Capital has shown great flexibility in tailoring a unique financing solution that meets our strategic growth needs. This institutional investment will assist EKI in achieving its growth plans and expanding its education platform across the region”.
Benjamin J Lee, Co-Founder, President and CEO of EKI further said: “Partnering with one of the most reputable alternative investments firms in the Middle East is a big win for EKI. Gulf Capital understands our growth needs and will act as a true partner as we rapidly expand within the region. It is a milestone for EKI to partner with a high calibre team such as that of Gulf Capital and there are exciting times ahead.”
Walid Cherif, Managing Director of Gulf Credit Partners stated: “We are delighted to team up with EKI, which has vast experience in establishing and operating schools and has successfully grown its education platform. We are also thrilled with this sixth investment of the Fund and its success in deploying over 60% of its capital in thriving and growing businesses. The structural flexibility we offer has been an integral factor behind our success so far. We believe we provide a degree of flexibility generally unavailable in the marketplace, which is both timely and extremely valuable to mid-market companies. It also provides an alternative form of financing in a variety of situations, including private equity acquisitions as well as company growth financing”.