Lemann-backed Brazil school chain Eleva to raise $200 million to expand: sources

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazilian K-12 school chain Eleva Educação SA is in talks with investors to raise around $200 million in a new financing round to fund expansion, two sources with knowledge of the matter said.

Eleva is backed by Brazilian billionaire Jorge Paulo Lemann, one of the three founders of private equity firm 3G Capital, a controlling shareholder at companies such as Anheuser Busch Inbev, Kraft Heinz co and Restaurant Brands International.

Eleva’s move comes as investors are targeting private K-12 school chains in Brazil, expecting strong growth, given the poor quality of public schools in Brazil.

The school network, which also has a learning system, has doubled its number of students to 70,000 in the last two years and expanded geographically through acquisitions, with 115 schools across eight states. Its revenue is expected to reach 1 billion reais ($240 million) this year.

Eleva was founded by Gera Capital, a Brazilian asset management firm focused on impact sectors.

Proceeds from the new round of financing will be used to fund acquisitions and organic growth. A small portion of the proceeds may also be raised by existing shareholders, although there has been no decision on it yet.

Other Brazilian education groups have been investing in expansion of K-12 private schools, such as Cogna Educacao, formerly known as Kroton Educacional, with its division Saber.

Businessman Chaim Zaher, founder of Yduqs , formerly known as Estacio Participacoes SA, is also investing in K-12 schools through his privately held holding.

Besides Lemann, Eleva has among its shareholders private equity firm Warburg Pincus LLC, which acquired a roughly 25% stake in Eleva for 300 million reais in 2017, in a round that valued the company at 1.3 billion reais.

Itau Unibanco Holding SA’s investment banking unit is advising Eleva in the capital raising. Eleva did not immediately comment on the matter.

($1 = 4.1451 reais)

Reporting by Carolina Mandl and Tatiana Bautzer; Editing by Steve Orlofsky