Historic St. George's University explores sale - sources

NEW YORK, March 18 Mon Mar 18, 2013 4:33pm EDT

NEW YORK, March 18 (Reuters) - Grenada's St. George's University, which came to prominence in 1983 when U.S. President Ronald Reagan sent in troops to evacuate American students following a military coup, is up for sale, people familiar with the matter said on Monday.

The university is speaking to private equity firms about a deal and is hoping to fetch more than $1 billion, said the four sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the talks are confidential.

A sale could end more than 36 years of independence for the university, one of the largest medical schools in the world.

Credit Suisse Group AG is advising St. George's University on the sale, one of the people said. Last year the bank helped arrange a $250 million loan whose proceeds were partly used to pay the university's founders a special dividend.

St. George's University, founded in 1976 by Charles and Louis Modica, Edward McGowan and Patrick Adams, generates annual earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization of over $100 million, the sources said.

Representatives of St. George's University and Credit Suisse did not respond to requests for comment.

In 1983 a Marxist coup led to the overthrow of Prime Minister Maurice Bishop and the United States launched Operation Urgent Fury in which about 6,000 American troops invaded Grenada to evacuate nearly 1,000 Americans, mostly medical students attending St. George's University.

The students returned to the United States unharmed but 19 American servicemen lost their lives in combat. Temporary classes took place in New York and New Jersey and another campus was established in Barbados before the Grenada campus re-opened in 1984, the same year democratic elections were held on the island.

Charles Modica serves as both chancellor and chairman of the university's board of trustees. Louis Modica and Patrick Adams, also sit on the board.

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