RIO DE JANEIRO/SAO PAULO, Aug 23 (Reuters) - Anima Educação SA, a Brazilian education company, hired investment banks Itaú BBA and Bank of America Merrill Lynch to advise on an initial public offering, two people with direct knowledge of the situation said on Friday.
Anima, which owns three universities located in the cities of Belo Horizonte and Santos, in southeastern Brazil, wants to sell shares to investors to expand and strengthen its capital position, said one of the sources, who declined to be identified because the process is private. Anima was founded in 2003.
The company's decision to sell shares in an IPO coincides with efforts by players in Brazil's thriving education sector to bring in investors to help fund expansion and acquire smaller rivals. Kroton Educacional SA and Abril Educação SA are companies in the sector that have won over investors amid President Dilma Rousseff's vow to work closely with private companies to boost education coverage and quality.
Investors have seen such an association as a boon for profits and the guarantee for moderate regulation amid a tumble in the country's equity market this year. Shares of education companies have gained about 7 percent this year, compared with a 13 percent drop in the benchmark Bovespa stock index.
Ser Educação, a unit of Abril, might also pursue an IPO before the end of this quarter, sources with knowledge of the situation told Thomson Reuters IFR earlier this month. According to the report, the investment banking units of Grupo BTG Pactual SA, Credit Suisse Group, Goldman Sachs Group Inc and Banco Santander SA were hired to manage the deal.
Itaú BBA is the investment-banking unit of Itaú Unibanco Holding SA, Brazil's largest bank by market value. Bank of America Merrill Lynch is the investment bank of Bank of America Corp.
A Itaú spokesman declined to comment on the mandate. The media offices of Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Anima did not answer phone calls after working hours.