Curro Century City in Cape Town. Curro plans to build six new campuses in South Africa. Photo: Courtney Africa/African News Agency (ANA)
DURBAN - Independent education provider Curro Holdings yesterday said that it was planning to invest more than R1.1 billion in building new campuses and improving existing ones.

The group said that R400 million had already been set aside during the current financial year to build six new campuses in South Africa, while about R700m would be used to expand existing campuses.

Chief executive Andries Greyling said the expansion was already in full swing at some campuses. “Curro has a strong balance sheet that comes on the back of prior capital raises and improved profitability. The increasing cash generation improves the group’s ability to service debt, which will be the preferred method of funding going forward,” Greyling said.

Curro reported a 22 percent increase in headline earnings from continuing operations to R138m for the six months to June from R113m last year.

The group said its headline earnings per share rose 22 percent to 33.6cents, while revenue shot up 18 percent to R1.42bn, boosted by growth in learner numbers.

Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation increased by 31 percent to R335m.

The group did not declare a dividend during the period.

Going forward, the board said it believes Curro is well positioned for growth and remains optimistic about its long-term prospects.

“As we celebrate our 20th anniversary, we are still seeing double-digit revenue growth thanks, in part, to a 10 percent increase in learner numbers from 45 890 to 50 691, as well as increased efficiencies. We are continuing to expand both locally and in the rest of Africa, and have made a number of notable acquisitions,” Greyling said. Jordan Weir, a trader at Citadel, said the results fell roughly in line with general guidance.

Weir said Curro would benefit more from its investments in property than education.

He pointed out that most parents were likely to opt for home schooling instead of private school education because of rising costs.

“This argument is based on many factors, such as rising school fees across the board, falling academic standards, space issues within public schools, sub-standard curricula and even safety factors related to issues such as bullying,” Weir said.

Curro rose 0.7 percent on the JSE yesterday to close at R31.45.

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