December 6, 2017 / 9:24 PM / a year ago

Baring Private Equity Asia nears $1 billion deal to buy Prometric: sources

(Reuters) - Hong Kong-based buyout firm Baring Private Equity Asia is nearing a deal to acquire U.S. educational services company Prometric Inc for roughly $1 billion, including debt, sources familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.

The deal would be the latest example of Asia-based investors stepping up their hunt for educational assets overseas, as more students, especially in China, seek access to Western educational resources at home and abroad.

Baring, one of Asia’s largest funds, would buy Prometric from a New Jersey-based nonprofit called Educational Testing Service (ETS). An agreement could come as early as this month, said the sources, who requested anonymity to discuss the confidential negotiations.

Prometric declined to comment, while ETS and Baring Private Equity Asia could not be reached for comment.

Private equity firms like education assets because of the stable cash flows they generate from income from prepaid tuitions and other fees.

Prometric administers exams for organizations such as the American Board of Family Medicine and the American Board of Pediatrics.

The Baltimore, Maryland-based company manages an average of 7 million exams per year in 6,000 testing centers in more than 180 countries, according to its website. It also provides test development and data management services for its clients.

ETS acquired Prometric for $435 million in 2007 from the Thomson Corporation, the predecessor of Thomson Reuters Corp (TRI.TO).

Baring Asia has been aiming to raise $6 billion in a new Asian fund, Reuters reported in November.

It announced a deal to acquire language teaching business Wall Street English from Pearson (PSON.L) last month for around $300 million, in a consortium with CITIC Capital Holdings.

Reporting by Liana B. Baker in San Francisco and Andrew Berlin in New York; Editing by Richard Chang

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