Dubai-based GEMS Education has bought the school for Sh2.6 billion ($260 million), marking the latest deal in the high-end private education industry in Kenya.
Private equity firm Fanisi Capital has already signed the agreement to sell the International School and the deal is awaiting the necessary approval.
“Hillcrest is being sold to GEMS for Sh2.6 billion. The transaction is awaiting approval of regulators,” a source familiar with the transaction told the Business Daily.
In 2011, Fanisi Capital teamed up with businessman Anthony Wahome to buy Hillcrest which was facing bankruptcy then. The two forked out a total of Sh1.8 billion ($18 million) to pay Barclays Bank of Kenya, the family of Kenneth Matiba and other creditors.
This means that once the buyout has been finalized Fanisi and Mr. Wahome are set to walk away with a profit of at least Sh800 million from their seven-year investment.
This latest buyout deal follows another high-end buyout deal in 2015 after a consortium led by Private equity firm AfricInvest sold Brookhouse School to UK-based private equity fund Educas for a record Sh3.6 billion ($36 million), making it one of the biggest transactions in Kenya’s high-end education sector.
GEMS Education hopes to leverage on the buyout of Hillcrest to expand its footprint in the Kenyan market, adding to its already established GEMS Cambridge International School based in Nairobi.
The country has a chain of international schools which offer international curriculum like the British education system and charge up to $25,988 (Sh2.7 million) per year, rivalling more advanced metropolis like Amsterdam, Kuala Lumpur, Copenhagen and Cape town whose fees are nearly a third of what Kenyan schools charge.
The cost of educating a child below 10 years in Nairobi’s top private schools is $10,500 (Sh1 million) a year on average, according to the International Schools Database Survey states (ISDS).
International School of Kenya (ISK) is the most expensive school in the country and continent at large, charging a whooping $25,988 per child.
Hillcrest International School, founded in 1965, follows closely and charges $13,475.48 annually per child.
GEMS Cambridge charges $13,475 a year per child while Brook house and Braeburn charges $13,475 and $12,513 respectively.