Brazil's Ser Educacional prices IPO below target range

Reuters

SAO PAULO, Oct 25 (Reuters) - Brazilian education companyGrupo Ser Educacional SA and shareholders sold 619.4 millionreais ($283.7 million) of stock in an initial public offeringthat priced below the suggested range on Friday.

Ser Educacional shares were sold at 17.50 reais each,according to information filed with securities regulator CVM,well below a proposed price between 19.50 reais and 23.50 reais.

The cheaper price might be a sign of flagging investordemand for the industry's second IPO in two days. Educationcompany GAEC Educação SA and a shareholder sold 468.2 millionreais of shares on Thursday.

Half the proceeds of Friday's share sale will be used tofund Ser Educacional's expansions plans, while half will go toshareholders who want to cash out.

The blockbuster IPO of BB Seguridade in Aprilcapped a string of successful listings on the São Paulo StockExchange to start the year, but enthusiasm waned as theBrazilian economy slumped in the third quarter.

Azul Linhas Aéreas Brasileiras SA, Brazil's third-biggestairline, and cement company Votorantim Cimentos SA both scrappedplans for public listings in August, as rising inflation andstagnant economic growth battered investor confidence.

Brazilian education companies have pulled off a steadystream of share offerings to fund rapid consolidation of apromising sector.

Brazil's $11 billion-a-year education industry has grown ata double-digit rate in recent years because a tight job marketdemands a skilled labor force with better technical knowledge,stronger analytical abilities and foreign language proficiency.

Ser Educacional's IPO was originally scheduled for a weekearlier, but CVM temporarily suspended the share sale until thecompany included relevant tax information in the offering'sprospectus.

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