Chinese company buys Australian higher-education provider with global firms' help

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Two global firms advised on the sale of an Australia higher-education provider to a Chinese company listed in Hong Kong.

Pinsent Masons advised China Education Group (CEG) on its acquisition of King’s Own Institute (KOI), which was advised by Clifford Chance. CEG has agreed to acqurie KOI for $128m.

Pinsent Masons said that it advised China Education through the whole lifecycle of the deal. That involved acting from the initial binding offer and due diligence to the drafting and negotiation of key transaction documentation until completion, the firm said. Pinsent Masons fielded lawyers from Hong Kong, Shanghai, Perth, and Melbourne on the deal.

Partner Brian Scott and associate Lucy Carter worked on M&A matters. Partner Katie Williams and lawyer Patrick Williams advised on employment matters. The China team was led by partner Wei Liu and legal director Michael Lin.

The Clifford Chance team, advised KOI shareholders, was headed by partner Mark Currell and counsel Jacob Kahwaji, who are based in Sydney.

 “Australia represents one of the most popular and fastest growing international student markets in the world, and the Australian education sector continues to be the subject of interest from private equity and trade buyers throughout the region,” Kahwaji said.

KOI offers a wide range of accredited degree courses, including accounting, business, and IT to Australian and international students in Australia.

CEG, which offers tertiary and vocational education in China, has about 178,000 students. The acquisition is part of CEG’s push to grow its higher-education presence, Clifford Chance said.

Clifford Chance recently acted in another cross-border acquisition, advising Australian Private Equity Pemba Capital Partners in the divestment of Placard, Australia’s largest secure identification and transactions cards maker, to Sweden’s ASSA ABLOY for $63m. Clifford Chance also recently played a key role in the largest IPO in Hong Kong in 2019.