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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 13 November 2018

Bahrain's sovereign wealth fund sells US education provider stake 

Mumtalakat says it remains bullish on the US market and will continue to look for more investments in the education sector

Mahmood AlKooheji, the chief executive of Mumtalakat says the company will continue to look for more investment opportunities in the education sector. Razan Alzayani / The National
Mahmood AlKooheji, the chief executive of Mumtalakat says the company will continue to look for more investment opportunities in the education sector. Razan Alzayani / The National

Mumtalakat, the sovereign wealth fund of Bahrain, sold its stake in the Nobel Learning Communities, a private education provider in the US, for an undisclosed amount.

Mumtalakat, which has a portfolio of $15.4 billion of assets, said on Tuesday it remained bullish on investments in the US market and will continue to hunt fore more deals in the education sector.

“Our investment in Nobel reflects our optimistic outlook on the US market,” Mahmood Alkooheji, chief executive of Mumtalakat, said in a statement, without giving financial details of the exit. “While we focus on investing in sectors that address economic needs …. we are committed to continued investments in the education sector and have built a strong team of industry experts to support the growth of our portfolio companies.”

The company, he added, will continue to seek investments in different education sub-sectors, including private pre-nursery K-12 education, vocational training, and educational support software.

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Mumtalakat acquired Nobel in 2015 in partnership with Bahrain-based alternative investments manager, Investcorp. The company’s network of schools since then has expanded with approximately 34 new facilities added through acquisitions and greenfield development to 190 private schools across the US, according to the statement.

Investments in the education sector, one of the higher growth segments in developed and developing economies, have been on the rise in recent years in the Middle East and beyond, as demand for schooling grows with the uptick in population numbers. Mumtalakat also owns a stake in GEMS Education, one of the leading private schools operators in the region, along with its founder Sunny Varkey, Dubai-based private equity firm Fajr Capital and Khazanah Nasional Berhad, the Malaysian government-owned fund.

Established in 2006 with a mandate to grow Bahrain’s strategic non-oil and gas assets, Mumtalakat has diversified its portfolio of assets locally and globally. Aluminum Bahrain and National Bank of Bahrain are among Mumtalakat’s assets in the Arabian Gulf state, while car maker McLaren Group is one of its international investments.

The sovereign wealth fund’s assets have grown and almost doubled from 29 to over 60 local and international companies across 11 sectors. Of those, 65 per cent are based in Bahrain and the broader region, while 29 are in Europe and 6 per cent in the US, the company said.