GFH in $150m deal to sell assets to global private schools operator

Updated 05 December 2017

GFH in $150m deal to sell assets to global private schools operator

LONDON: Gulf-focused investment group GFH has struck a $150 million deal to sell part of its educational assets in the GCC to global private schools operator, Inspired.
GFH’s educational portfolio in the GCC has been built over the past four years and is valued at $300 million, the company said in an announcement on Tuesday. GFH is listed in Bahrain, Kuwait and Dubai.
Inspired runs private schools in Europe, Africa, Latin America and Australia. Its chairman Nadin Nsouli said: “This agreement marks the entry point of Inspired in the region. We will evaluate other school acquisitions in the region with GFH.”
Hisham Al-Rayes, CEO of GFH, said: “Inspired’s network and experience will add significant value to the schools including offering both students and teachers opportunities to take part in exchange programs and to benefit from the latest programs to enhance the level of education.”
Inspired has schools in Italy, the UK, Switzerland, Belgium, South Africa, Kenya, Australia, Colombia and Peru. GFH’s businesses include asset management, wealth management, commercial banking and real estate development.
Elsewhere, GEMS MENASA, parent company of Dubai’s largest private schools operator, GEMS Education, was reported to have chosen JP Morgan, Credit Suisse, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley to lead a planned flotation in London next year.
GEMS, which operates more than 250 schools across 14 countries, could have a market capitalization of around $4.5-$5 billion, according to Reuters.
Listed on Nasdaq Dubai, GEMS MENSA on Monday reported stronger financial results in the year ending Aug. 31, 2017, with net profit up 2.5% at $129.6 million. Revenue rose 17.3 percent to $926.2m, while key indicator — average revenue per student — jumped 6.6 percent to $8,079 year-on-year.
GEMS also reported it had secured a $1.25 billion loan to refinance existing borrowings and support growth.

Taps and reservoirs run dry as Moroccan drought hits farmers

Updated 22 October 2020

Taps and reservoirs run dry as Moroccan drought hits farmers

  • The problems caused by increasingly erratic rainfall and the depletion of groundwater are growing every year in Morocco

RABAT: Two years of drought have drained reservoirs in southern Morocco, threatening crops the region relies on and leading to nightly cuts in tap water for an area that is home to a million people.

In a country that relies on farming for two jobs in five and 14 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP), the problems caused by increasingly erratic rainfall and the depletion of groundwater are growing every year.

In the rich citrus plantations of El-Guerdan, stretching eastward from the southern city of Agadir, more than half of farmers rely on two dams in the mountains of Aoulouz, 126 km away, to irrigate their trees.

However, that water has been diverted to the tourist hub of Agadir, where mains water has been cut to residential areas every night since Oct. 3 to ensure taps in households did not run entirely dry.

“The priority should go to drinking water,” Agriculture Minister Aziz Akhannouch said in parliament last week.

In El-Guerdan, Youssef Jebha’s crop of clementine oranges has been compromised by reduced water supply, he said, which affects both the quality of fruit and the size of the harvest.

“The available ground water is barely enough to keep the trees alive,” said Jebha, who is head of a regional farmers’ association.

“Saving Agadir should not be at the expense of El-Guerdan farmers,” he added, speaking by phone.

‘We hope for rain’

El-Guerdan is not alone in facing drought. Morocco’s harvest of cereals this year was less than half that of 2019, meaning hundreds of millions of dollars of extra import costs.

Despite lower production, Moroccan exports of fresh produce have risen this year by 8 percent. 

Critics of the government’s agricultural policy say such sales are tantamount to exporting water itself, given the crops use up so many resources.

A report by Morocco’s social and environmental council, an official advisory body, warned that four-fifths of the country’s water resources could vanish over the next 25 years.

It also warned of the risks to social peace due to water scarcity. In 2017, 23 people were arrested after protests over water shortages in the southeastern city of Zagora.

In January the government said it would spend $12 billion on boosting water supply over the next seven years by building new dams and desalination plants.

One $480 million plant, with a daily capacity of 400,000 cubic meters, is expected to start pumping in March, with the water divided between residential areas and farms.

Until then, “We hope for rain,” the agriculture minister said in parliament.

In El-Guerdan, the farmers are digging for water. A new well costs $20,000-30,000. However, “there is no guarantee water can be found due to the depletion of ground reserves,” said Ahmed Bounaama, another farmer.