University of Nottingham Malaysia owners weigh a sale

Nottingham University of Malaysia has an 125-acre campus in Semenyih, which is about 30 kilometres from Kuala Lumpur. PHOTO: UNIVERSITY OF NOTTINGHAM MALAYSIA/FACEBOOK

KUALA LUMPUR (BLOOMBERG) - University of Nottingham Malaysia Sdn's owners are weighing a sale that could value the education provider at about RM500 million ($164.3 million), according to people with knowledge of the matter.

Boustead Holdings, a Malaysian conglomerate with interests in finance, plantations and properties, is working with an adviser on the planned sale of its majority stake in the offshore campus of the British university, the people said. YTL Corp, which also holds a stake in the learning institution, may tag along in the exit, said the people, who asked not to be identified as the process is private.

Boustead owns about 66 per cent of the University of Nottingham Malaysia, while YTL and the University of Nottingham hold approximately 4 per cent and 30 per cent respectively, according to the people.

The partnership between the three parties was formally announced in 1998 following an invitation from Malaysia's education ministry to establish an overseas campus, according to its website. The Malaysian institution, among the first branch campuses of British universities established outside of the UK, welcomed its first students in September 2000.

Nottingham University of Malaysia has an 125-acre campus in Semenyih, which is about 30 kilometres from Kuala Lumpur, as well as a teaching site in the country's capital. The education centre, which offers foundation level courses through doctoral degrees, has around 5,000 students from more than 85 different countries.

Deliberations are still early and there is no certainty that Boustead and YTL will proceed with the deal, the people said. YTL executive chairman Francis Yeoh declined to comment, while representatives for Boustead and University of Nottingham Malaysia didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.

Dealmaking in the education sector in South-east Asia has gained momentum in recent years as investors bet that rising incomes in the region will translate to higher spending on schooling.

China Maple Leaf Educational Systems acquired Singapore's Canadian International School for $680 million this year, while International Schools Partnership in 2019 bought Tenby Education Group, which owns seven schools in Malaysia. In 2017, buyout firm EQT Partners invested in English teaching school ILA Vietnam.

Follow ST on LinkedIn and stay updated on the latest career news, insights and more.