Carlyle makes third Turkish investment with schools deal

Global private equity firm The Carlyle Group has acquired a 48 percent stake in Bahcesehir Koleji, a private education provider in Turkey.

The Carlyle Group has bought a 48 percent stake in education provider Bahcesehir Koleji, marking the firm’s fifth investment in the MENA region. The existing shareholders, the Yucel and Karatas groups, will retain significant stakes in the business, the firm said in a statement. Carlyle declined to disclose financial details. 

Bahcesehir Koleji is part of Bahcesehir Education Group and provides Turkey’s education sector with private nurseries, primary and secondary schools. Carlyle believes it to be a “strong growing company”, with the number of students educated by the company’s institutions growing from 2,700 in the 2007-2008 school year, to over 12,000 students this year. 

The business was set up by Enver Yucel, an education-focused entrepreneur who also heads TODER (the private education association of Turkey). In addition to Bahcesehir Koleji, Bahcesehir Education Group also owns the private Bahcesehir University, which has roughly 13,000 students, as well as Ugur, a chain of test preparation centres.

“Demand for private education in Turkey is increasing, driven by a number of factors including a growing student population and higher incomes”, Walid Musallam, Carlyle’s managing director and head of Carlyle MENA, said in a statement. “The private school sector remains fragmented and penetration remains low in Turkey.”

The equity for the investment came from the firm’s MENA-specific fund Carlyle MENA Partners, which is a $500 million growth capital fund that was established in 2009. Carlyle invested in Turkey in 2009 as well, with Medical Park, one of Turkey’s larger healthcare groups. Carlyle declined to comment further on the fund.

Can Deldag, managing director responsible for Turkey investments within Carlyle, said: “In Turkey we focus on growth sectors – healthcare, retail, transportation and recently in manufacturing. We will keep looking for the appropriate sectors and partners so that we can make a proper assessment when there is an opportunity.”