August 27, 2015 / 4:10 AM / 4 years ago

UPDATE 1-Australia's Pacific Equity Partners in talks for $340 mln education buyout -source

* PEP to decide in weeks whether to make offer or not

* Interest shows demand up for pre-university English learning (Adds likely timing of deal, context)

By Byron Kaye

SYDNEY, Aug 27 (Reuters) - Pacific Equity Partners (PEP), Australia’s top buyout firm, is in exclusive talks about a possible acquisition of New Zealand’s largest training provider for university education for about NZ$530 million ($340 million), a source told Reuters on Thursday.

PEP is in talks with unlisted Auckland-based Academic Colleges Group (ACG) and is expected to decide in several weeks whether to make an offer or not, said the source who asked not to be identified because the discussions were confidential.

The source said ACG, which has schools in New Zealand, Vietnam and Indonesia, has not set a price tag but is expected to be worth about NZ$530 million.

PEP’s interest in ACG underscores the growing demand for Australia and New Zealand-based adult education firms as growing numbers of migrants into the two nations seek to brush up on their English before embarking on university degrees.

Sydney-based PEP and ACG were not immediately available for comment.

The deal would continue PEP’s acquisition streak after it bought the local manufacturing business of Ireland-headquartered food company Kerry Group Plc for an undisclosed sum in May. (Reporting by Byron Kaye; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)

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