File picture: Independent Media

JOHANNESBURG - South African private schools group, Curro Holdings, said on Monday that it was planning to invest up to R2.3 billion this year in a bid to to take advantage of the significant growth opportunities in the education market both in the country and across the borders.

During 2017, Curro invested more than R1.1 billion in the schools business through the construction of five new campuses, expansion of existing campuses, acquisitions and in land banking. 

The group also refunded R850 million of debt at lower rates and raised additional five-year bullet funds of R650 million during the year.

Curro on Monday was reporting the results for the financial year ending 31 December 2017 which showed that it had delivered a satisfactorily in a tough economic market. 

Revenue increased by 22 percent from R1.7 billion in 2016 to to R2 billion but declared no dividend for the year under review.

Schools' earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation, amortisation (EBITDA) and head office expenditure increased by 22 percent from R487 million to R594 million over the same period, with EBITDA increasing by 25 percent from R377 million to R473 million.

Headline earnings increased by 24 percent from R162 million to R201 million during the reporting period.

But headline earnings per share increased by 17 percent from 41.8 cents to 49.0 cents due to the increase in the weighted average number of shares in issue following private placements undertaken and shares issued in terms of the Share Incentive Trust during the year.

Curro said that its board believes that the group is strategically positioned and poised for both organic and acquisitional future growth.

In its 20th year of existence, Curro passed another milestone with more than 50,000 learners across 59 campuses made up of 138 schools.

 - African News Agency (ANA)