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Baring sued by Global Indian Schools

The education provider has accused the private equity firm of blocking deals to lower its entry price.

Baring Private Equity Asia is facing a law suit in Singapore as it gears up to raise its sixth Asia fund.

Global Indian Schools, an Asia-based school operator, is suing the firm under the Global Indian Schools Holdings & 2 Ors v Minerva Education Holdings Limited & Anor case in the Singapore high court, according to a Supreme Court document.

Baring had previously agreed to invest $100 million in the business through its portfolio company Minerva, the investment subject to Global Indian Schools meeting a 2012 profit of $9.8 million and giving Minerva at least a 15 percent yearly return on each of the four convertible notes issued, media has reported citing court papers.

The target company has now alleged that Baring and Minerva vetoed deals in Abu Dhabi, Kuwait and Vietnam to prevent it from meeting those targets and subsequently bring down the offer price.

A spokesman for Baring said the firm is declining to comment on the matter.

The Hong Kong-based private equity firm is an active investor in the education sector and has faced difficulties in the segment before.

Last year, Baring-owned Chinese company Ambow Education Holdings, which had been listed on the New York Stock Exchange, was ordered into provisional liquidation, with KPMG taking over management and starting an 11-month investigation into allegations of fraud in the schools and training business, media reported earlier.

However, Baring has also had success in the sector, notably with Hong Kong-based school operator Nord Anglia, which in February 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. It is unclear whether the IPO will represent an exit for Baring.

Baring is currently amidst plans to raise its sixth Asia-focused private equity vehicle, which will target up to $2.9 billion, PEI revealed earlier. The firm expects to launch around early May, with its annual general meeting being held during the first week of the month in Hong Kong.