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Abraaj acquires Middlesex University's Dubai campus - sources

DUBAI (Reuters) - Emerging markets-focused private equity firm Abraaj Group acquired Middlesex University's overseas campus in Dubai, sources familiar with the matter said, in a sign of increased interest from buyout firms in the Middle East's education sector.

In June, Abraaj was chosen by shareholders of the university campus, which is owned by individual investors in the United Arab Emirates and operated by London's Middlesex University, as a preferred bidder and was invited to conduct due diligence.

The deal closed at the end of January, sources told Reuters, with Abraaj paying 11 times earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation. The deal value was not disclosed.

Dubai-based Abraaj declined to comment when contacted by Reuters, while Middlesex University Dubai did not respond to queries for comment.

Middlesex University Dubai's earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation were about $6.8 million last year, the sources said in September. The deal would have closed at about $74.8 million, according to Reuters calculations.

Private universities in Dubai are beginning to attract the attention of private equity players. Investors in recent years have acquired schools, a fast growing sector amid a wealthy and growing population.

The Dubai campus opened in 2005 and has more than 2,500 students, offering a variety of undergraduate and postgraduate programmes, according to its website.



(Reporting by Hadeel Al Sayegh; Editing by Saeed Azhar and Kim Coghill)