(Hong Kong, 28 July 2017) – China First Capital Group Limited (“CFCG” or the “Group”; stock code: 1269) announced that it plans to acquire 54% of the total issued shares of SJW International Co., Limited (“SJW International” or “Siwon School”) at the maximum consideration of approximately US$135 million (approximately HK$1.05 billion). CFCG has recently been exploring and investing in high quality education projects, and optimizing the layout of its education business chain. Since the second half of 2016, the Group has increased its expansion into the international market by making agreements to cooperate with several international education brands, and expanded its footprints from mainland China to United Kingdom, United States, Australia, Singapore and other countries with abundant high quality educational resources. The acquisition of SJW International marks the Group’s successful entry into the Korean market, as well as the growing popularity of the online language education sector.
Mr. Victor He, CFCG’s Deputy CEO (fourth from right) together with his team and Mr. Sean Lee (fifth from right), founder of Siwon School.
SJW International was incorporated in Korea in 2006 and was the first company to offer online video English training for adults in Korea. It primarily provides online English courses for adults and children, as well as online language training courses for Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, etc. Thanks to its successful product and marketing strategies since 2015, SJW International has earned its place as the leading company in the online adult language learning sector in Korea, taking up 63% market share. This year, SJW International has expanded its business to include advanced basic English courses, English courses for children and seniors as well as one-on-one live chat tutoring. In the meantime, SJW International is also developing an adaptive learning platform, which has high potential and is expected to be commercialised in late 2017. The company aspires to establish itself as a top edu-tech content and service platform in Korea with the ultimate goal of becoming a global platform.
SJW International boasts strong finances backed by outstanding operational performance and abundant cash flow. Furthermore, it has entered into its fast growth stage and is armed with plenty of resources to stimulate growth. Rhodium Capital, a Singapore-based wealth management and private equity investment firm, is also an investor in the transaction. WIDUS Partners, a Hong Kong based investment advisory and private equity firm, advised the seller on the transaction and is also an investor in the transaction.
Chart 1：SJW International Historical Financials
|Million KRW||2015 (A)||2016 (A)|
Mr. Victor He, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of CFCG and head of the Group’s international business division said, “The online education user population has been rapidly growing consistently alongside the development of the Internet and related technologies. Online language education, which enables a high level of personalization, is able to meet the needs of different learner groups, thus benefiting the development of the overall online education market. This sector has attracted continuous capital market attention by which it is encouraged to reform and upgrade. Siwon School is one of the most renowned brands in Korea and according to the Korea Open Online Education Research website, it held the largest share of the adult online education market in terms of sales in 2016. The teaching methods and course contents used and designed by its founder Si Won (Sean) Lee are well recognised among Korean English learners, especially office workers and professionals between the ages of 20 to 40, propelling Sean to his position as the most famous English teacher in Korea today. ”
“Siwon School is actively developing an adaptive learning platform embedded with one-on-one live chat tutoring for adults and children, which is expected to have tremendous growth potential. Demand for one-on-one live chat tutoring has been increasing for years in China and there are similar trends in other Asian countries such as Korea, Japan and Vietnam. Upon the completion of the transaction, Siwon School will become a key online education asset of the Group. The Group believes that the strategic alliance, which promises to share resources and pursue in-depth cooperation will bring significant synergies to both parties. Siwon School's strong brand recognition in Korea can attract excellent local resources for future M&A and investments. It will continue to utilize the cost advantages of the Korean capital market, coupled with its prominent brand, to become a leading Korean education enterprise. The Group will bring forth its international edu-tech resources, such as the USA Silicon Valley based GSV Acceleration Fund, to support the alliance and help Siwon School on the international stage. Compared with traditional classrooms, online education has a higher gross margin and the flexibility to adjust according to market changes. Siwon School has a mature business model which is expected to continue growing in the coming years, providing the Group with robust cash flows and rich international resources.”