By Narayan Ammachchi
British education group Pearson has agreed to acquire a 100% stake in Brazil’s English teaching firm Grupo Multi for $721 million. Grupo Multi teaches English language to over 800,000 students with a network of more than 2,600 franchised schools across the South American country, where a large number of youths want to learn the language in the hope of brightening their employment prospects in the increasingly competitive job market.
This is the second acquisition in Brazil that Pearson – which publishes the prestigious business daily The Financial Times – has made, having previously bought the curriculum services division of Sistemas Educacional Brasileiro in 2010. Pearson is said to be serving about 500,000 students at Sistemas, .
The latest acquisition highlights the Brazilian population’s growing interest in learning the English language and the growing ambition of the British company to cash in on this trend. Brazil’s English training market is worth about $3.2 billion USD, says Pearson, who reveals that as many as 2.8 million Brazilians have signed up for learning English across different age groups.
“This growth is fuelled by the fact that English language fluency in Brazil is low by international standards. In addition, a shortage of English speakers in key sectors including tourism, transportation, and hospitality is considered one of Brazil’s challenges as it prepares to host high-profile global events including the World Cup and the Olympics,” stated the British firm in a press release.
Grupo Multi was established by Carlos Wizard Martins, who set up his first language school in 1987 on his return from the United States. But in 2010, Martins family sold a small stake in the company to investment firm Kinea.
Pearson is now purchasing the stakes from both of them. The transaction is expected to be complete in the first half of 2014.