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Baring-backed Nord files for $300m IPO

The Hong Kong-based school operator is planning to list shares on the New York Stock Exchange.

Nord Anglia, a portfolio company of Baring Private Equity Asia, has applied to sell $300 million worth of common stock on the New York Stock Exchange, according to a filing with the US Securities and Exchanges Commission.

Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Securities are acting as sponsors of the listing. It was unclear at press time if the flotation will serve as a partial exit for the pan-regional private equity firm.

Baring acquired Nord Anglia in 2008 for $360 million and owns 97 percent of the business, while company management owns the balance. 

Baring and Nord Anglia declined to comment on the matter.

Nord Anglia is a Hong Kong-based school operator, running schools in Southeast Asia, China, Europe, North America and the Middle East. The business expanded into the US last year through its $237 million acquisition of WCL Group. 

Baring has exposure to another NYSE-listed education business through its $57 million investment in Chinese company Ambow Education Holdings.

However, in June last year, the firm was set to make a $43 million loss on the business after a Cayman Islands court ordered the company into liquidation after allegations that the business was involved in fraud, including “sham transactions”, Reuters reported at the time. 

Ambow was among a number of US-listed Chinese companies that came under scrutiny for fraudulent activity. The regulatory action  ultimately pushed down the valuations of most Chinese companies listed overseas, even those not alleged to have been involved in fraud.

As a result, a number of Asia-focused GPs have privatised a variety of US-listed Chinese companies. Baring, too, has taken advantage of the opportunity. In November 2013, the firm proposed a $2.8 billion NYSE take-private of Chinese gaming company Giant Interactive. 

US investors now seem to have renewed interest in Chinese companies, with a number of PRC-based companies managing to list successfully on the NASDAQ and NSYE during 2013, Private Equity International reported earlier. Chinese companies LightInTheBox, 58.com and Qunar all listed in the US last year.